Graduating seniors in Union County did better on the math portion of the SAT but worse in reading and writing.
The College Board reported Tuesday that the school district's average composite SAT score rose from 912 in 2006 to 915 in 2007. A breakdown of the results presents a mixed bag with math scores rising from 454 to 465 out of a possible 800 but reading scores decreasing from 458 to 449 and writing from 455 to 432.
The composite individual scores for the Class of 2008 ranged from 510 to 1340. A breakdown of those scores, however, reveals that students who prepared for the SAT achieved scores in excess of the national average.
Twenty-nine students scored above the national average of 502 in reading; 32 above the national average of 515 in math; and 27 above the national average of 494 in writing. Thirty students had a composite critical reading and mathematics score above the national average of 1017.
Statewide, the average SAT composite score increased from 985 to 986; critical reading scores remained constant at 488 and mathematics increased from 496 to 497. The writing score increased one point from 475 to 476.
Cindy Langley, director of second education, pointed out that students who took the PSAT - the preliminary version of the SAT - in their sophomore or junior year had an average composite score of 1009, or 94 points higher than the district average. Those who took Advanced Placement and honors courses in English, math, science, and social studies had a composite score of 1020.
Students who did not take the PSAT had an average score of 840 or 75 points lower than the district average.
"Improving scores on the college entrance exams is one of our high school goals," she said. "Students who are following the district strategies by taking rigorous classes as well as the PSAT as juniors and seniors are scoring well on the college entrance exams. We certainly congratulate our students, parents, and teachers for their accomplishments.”
Even as SAT successes are celebrated, however, the decline in the district's reading and writing scores shows much work remains to be done, Mrs. Langley said. The difference between the scores of students who prepared for the SAT and those who didn't proves the need for all students to take preparatory courses and tests, she said. The district is taking steps to begin preparing students for the SATwell before high school, she added.
Last spring, the district implemented the Sadlier-Oxford Vocabulary Workshop and Junior Great Books programs on a pilot basis in several schools. The programs, which include a writing component, were implemented district-wide at the start of the current school year to improve students' vocabulary, reading and writing skills
"We want all students to improve at a faster rate, and we are concerned when we see a decline in the critical reading and writing sections," Mrs. Langley said. "Preparation for college begins even before students enter high school, and beginning in Grade 6, teachers will be using the Sadlier-Oxford Vocabulary Workshop as a systematic approach to vocabulary development. Throughout the district we have also begun using the Junior Great Books program as one strategy to develop students reading and thinking skills as they investigate authentic literature.
“Writing is also an integral part of the Great Books program,” she said. “The district will continue to provide workshops and classes for students to prepare for the SAT and other college entrance exams; however, the best preparation for any student is taking challenging academic courses.”
Mrs. Langley pointed out that taking rigorous, academically-challenging courses helps students prepare for college as well as the SAT.
“We certainly want to encourage our students to take the lab sciences, biology, chemistry, physics, the higher level math, precalculus, calculus and our Advanced Placement courses in English, math, science and social studies,” she said. “We want them to take rigorous courses to prepare them for college-level classes as well as the entrance exam.”
For more information about SAT scores and preparation for college entrance exams, parents should contact the guidance counselors at Union County High School.