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State SAT scores rise
Area lags state

Friday, September 27, 2013

From Bulletin, AP reports

Area high school students are lagging behind their peers statewide in their scores on the SAT college admissions test, according to statistics released Thursday by the College Board, which administers the test.

The figures show that Virginia high-schoolers who took the SAT this year scored an average of 512 points in reading, up four points from last year; 494 in writing, up two points; and 511 in math, an increase of one point.

Virginia students scored 21 points higher than the national average in reading, eight points higher in math and 14 points higher in writing.

In the Henry County Public Schools, 295 students took the SAT this year, scoring an average of 457 in reading, 439 in writing and 447 in math, according to the figures released by the state.

The students included 179 at Bassett High School and 115 at Magna Vista High School. Bassett students scored an average of 463 in reading, 443 in writing and 451 in math. Magna Vista students scored an average of 446 in reading, 431 in writing and 438 in math, the figures reveal.

Martinsville and Patrick County have one high school each.

At Martinsville High School, 109 students took the SAT this year, scoring an average of 439 in reading, 419 in writing and 428 in math, the figures show.

A total of 104 students at Patrick County High School took the exam, and they scored an average of 476 in reading, 450 in writing and 465 in math, according to the figures.

Jared Cotton, superintendent of the Henry County schools, noted that the school division had an increase in students taking the test for 2013 (295) over 2012 (228) and an increase in average scores compared to 2012.

“We have been making an effort to encourage more students to participate but also providing support at both high schools in afternoon sessions and weekend sessions,” he said.

The system also has been incorporating strategies to improve SAT performance in classrooms as it does for state tests, Cotton said. That is a challenge because the tests measure different skills, he said.

The SATs require higher-level thinking skills, vocabulary and critical reading, he said, adding that those skills are more in line with what the county schools have been doing to advocate communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creative thinking.

County students’ average scores rose in critical reading, 448 in 2012 and 457 in 2013; math, 444 in 2012 and 447 in 2013; and writing, 434 in 2012 and 439 in 2013.

“The good news is that we’re increasing the number of students participating and still making progress” at increasing test scores, Cotton added.

Patrick County Assistant Superintendent Dean Gilbert said he had not yet received the county’s figures, only the state figures. After the Martinsville Bulletin informed of him the county’s figures, he said he did not have the 2012 figures for comparison purposes.

Cyndi Williams, the Patrick schools’ testing coordinator who Gilbert said likely had all of the the statistics, was out of the office and could not be reached for comment.

Gilbert acknowledged that the Patrick schools are lagging behind the state, but he said that until he could examine the data in detail, he could not determine how the school system might be able to raise its scores.

Still, “we’ll have to address that down the road pretty soon,” he said.

Martinsville Superintendent Pam Heath could not be reached for comment on the figures Thursday evening.

Among the state averages, African-American students’ scores improved in all three sections. They scored an average 439 in reading, up seven points from the previous year. Their average math score rose four points to 431, and their average writing score increased five points to 422.

Hispanic students’ average reading score rose five points to 491 and their math score increased one point to 490. Their average writing score was unchanged at 474. The number of Hispanic students taking the SAT increased 7 percent from 2012.

Such data for the area school systems was not immediately available from either the College Board or the Virginia Department of Education.

Nationwide, average scores in reading, math and writing were unchanged from 2012.

In a news release, Gov. Bob McDonnell said “most Virginia high schools are doing a great job preparing our students for the college entrance exams.”

“This year we saw in Virginia impressively high marks on every section of the SAT,” McDonnell said. “This is due to the rigorous standards we hold our students to, and the high-quality classroom instruction by our teachers.”

Sixty-seven percent of Virginia’s 2013 public high school graduates and 71 percent of graduating seniors took the SAT. The total number of students who took the test, 53,072, was down from 53,806 in 2012.

“Virginia teachers at all grade levels should take pride in the improving performance of our graduating seniors on the SAT,” state Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright said in the news release.

“The long-term trend on the SAT is up as students are challenged by more rigorous standards as they advance through elementary and middle grades to high school, and ultimately graduate better prepared for their first year of college or the workforce,” Wright said.


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