Peach BOE talks SAT scores, participation

FORT VALLEY -- Peach County school board members were pleased with the recently released SAT scores for the county, but turnout for the test raised questions.

For the three-part assessment, Peach County High School’s 71 test-takers averaged a 1,368, which was ahead of four Bibb County schools of a similar enrollment size -- Central, Rutland, Southwest and Westside. The mark also wasn’t far off the 1,377 notched by both Mary Persons and Jones County high schools, which are both, like Peach County, the only high schools in their districts.

“You can see that Peach County is doing well,” said Mallerina Marshall, the district’s director of assessment and Title I.

Marshall pointed particularly to the critical reading portion, where Peach County’s students scored a 463 for a 10-point improvement over last year’s mean score of 453.

Another category, writing, caught the eye of Superintendent Daryl Fineran. Peach County scored an average of 452 on that assessment, higher than both Jones County and Mary Persons.

“Our writing is very high,” Fineran said. “We traditionally do very well in writing.”

Board members were generally pleased with the results at Tuesday’s regular meeting, but the number of test-takers created a discussion. The 71 students is lower than the four Bibb County schools that are a similar size to Peach County High School.

The closest is Southwest’s 90 test-takers, but Southwest also has 120 fewer total students and 30 fewer students that were classified as 12th-graders last year.

“That’s the only thing by looking at these numbers,” said board member Jamie Johnson.

The county saw a higher participation in the ACT, Fineran said, as 115 took that assessment, and the reason may have to do with college goals.

Peach County High School principal Al Pollard said that, according to studies, the 26 required on the ACT for full funding of a HOPE Scholarship was easier to obtain than the 1890 required on the SAT.

“I advocate taking both, but if you have to choose one, the ACT has a better chance at being fully funded,” he said.

To contact writer Jeremy Timmerman, call 744-4331 or find him on Twitter@MTJTimm.