There are 52 more reasons to feel confident about the future of Union County.
Our children are our future and our schools prepare them for that future. The knowledge they acquire during their years in school will help determine how well our children will do when they leave school and enter the adult world. Their success in absorbing and applying that knowledge is measured by the various tests our children take while in school, among them the SAT and the AP exams.
The result of the 2011 SAT and AP exams was nothing but good news about the state of the Union County School District and its ability to educate the young people entrusted to its care. The average SAT composite score for the Union County School seniors of the Class of 2011 was 1338, an increase of 52 points over the 2010 score of 1286. There were also increases in each area tested with reading scores going from 429 to 446; math scores from 444 to 469; and writing scores from 412 to 422. The average composite score for students in the top 20 percent of the class was 1531, almost 200 points higher than that of the total class. The average score for this segment of the student body in writing was 520; in math, 534; and writing, 477.
The good news continued as 43 students scored above the national average of 497 in reading; 41 scored above the national average of 514 in math; and 33 scored above the national average of 489 in writing. Thirty-seven students met or exceeded the national average composite score of 1500.
The results from the AP or Advanced Placement exam were also impressive with 51 percent of the students taking the exam scoring high enough to earn college credit. Students were tested in the areas of Biology, Calculus AB, Chemistry, Studio Art: Drawing, and United States History. To earn college credit through the AP, a student must score three or higher on a five-point scale. This year, the greatest improvement was in AP Calculus with passing scores increasing from 20 percent to 86 percent. In Biology, Calculus AB and US History, at least one student in each subject earned a maximum score of five.
Taken together, the SAT and AP results demonstrate what a determined effort by teachers, counselors and administrators to educate and inspire students to achieve academic excellence and the positive response of those students to that effort can accomplish. The 2011 results are a turnaround from 2010 when SAT scores fell. Rather than despairing, the district’s teachers, counselors and administrators rolled up their sleeves and went to work analyzing what went wrong and applying the results of that analysis to the classroom to improve student performance. The across the board improvement in the SAT and AP exams are a testament to their success and should serve as an inspiration to even greater success in the future.
There is no reason why there can’t be similar improvements in student performance on the SAT and AP next year and every year. All it requires is hard work on the part of both the school staff and the students and their parents. The effort to succeed in the classroom, both every day and at exam time, cannot be confined to the classroom. It must continue at home and parents must be as prepared to work with their children as much as possible as the teachers are.
The state of education is the health of a community, especially in the 21st century. Employers are looking for a workforce that is educated and capable of continuing to be educated to meet the constantly changing demands of an information-based economy. The results of the 2011 SAT and AP exams demonstrate that Union County is capable of producing just such a workforce. We cannot, however, rest on this accomplishment anymore than a business can rely on yesterday’s or even today’s technology for tomorrow’s success. Educators, parents and students must dedicate themselves to continuous academic improvement so that every year will see improvements in the SAT, the AP and all other measures of student performance.
When that happens — and we’re confident that it can — we will be able to feel even more confident about the future of our community because we will, on a yearly basis, be turning out a new generation of young men and women possessing the intellectual abilities and knowledge base to successfully compete for the jobs of the 21st century and bring them back to Union County.