The College Board reported Tuesday that the average SAT composite score for Union County High School was 1,341 or five points less than in 2008. Statewide, SAT scores for all students fell 9 points to 1452 while the national average dropped two points to 1,509.
Locally, 43 percent of the seniors at Union County High School took the SAT in 2009 compared to 47 percent in 2008. While writing scores increased from 432 to 444, critical reading scores decreased from 449 to 443 and math scores decreased from 465 to 453.
Mrs. Langley said that while the decline in the SAT score was unfortunate, a breakdown of the scores shows that seniors who took the PSAT, the preliminary to the SAT, in their sophomore or junior year had a mean composite score of 1,443, 102 points higher than the district average. Those students who performed better than the district average also took Honors and Advancement Placement courses.
Students who did not take the PSAT had a mean composite score of 1,183, 158 points lower than the district average.
“An analysis of the SAT results reveals that students who prepared for the test by taking rigorous courses as well as the PSAT had a solid performance,” Mrs. Langley said. “These are positive steps, and we congratulate Joe Walker, principal at Union County High School, students, teachers, counselors, and parents for attaining these accomplishments.
“If there’s one thing that I would encourage all students to do is to take Honors and Advance Placement courses,” she said. The preparation of those rigorous courses prepares students for success in national tests and college.”
Mrs. Langley added that the composite score for students in the top 20 percent of the Class of 2009 was 1,559, over 200 points higher than that of the total class. The critical reading average for this group was 520, in math 527 and 512 in writing.
While the district would have preferred SAT scores to increase, Mrs. Langley said the decline was within the standard deviation that can occur from year to year. She said the district is still determined, however, to prevent any further decline.
“Scores fluctuate from year to year and the college board reports tells us that half of all high schools experience a change of plus or minus 10 points in a given year,” she said. “We, however, are never satisfied when we have a drop in test scores and we want to stop any downward trend.”
Mrs. Langley said the district has implemented several strategies to raise the performance level of all students at a much faster rate.
“Last year teachers began using the Sadlier-Oxford Vocabulary Workshop, a systematic approach to vocabulary development, and the Junior Great Books program to develop students’ critical reading and writing skills,” she said. “Measures to strengthen the math program include the acceleration of the math curriculum beginning in grade 6 and the implementation of Bridges to Algebra in grade 9 to help students develop the requisite critical thinking skills they need to be successful in high school mathematics.
“Additionally, core academic teachers will meet in grade bands with instructional coaches to design activities and assessments that promote the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills,” she said. “While the district will continue to provide workshops and classes for students to prepare for the SAT and other college entrance exams, the best way for students to improve their performance on national exams is to take challenging academic courses.”
AP exam scores up
Slightly more than half of the Union County High School students who took the 2009 Advanced Placement (AP) exam scored high enough to earn college credit, officials say.
The College Board reported Tuesday that 51 percent of the juniors and seniors who took the AP earned college credits compared with 30 percent in 2008. Statewide, AP performance improved slightly from 56.2 percent to 56.4 percent. The national AP results will be released at a later date.
Cindy Langley, director of secondary education, pointed out that the number of students taking the AP exam increased from 27 to 35. The number of AP exams taken also increased, from 33 to 45.
“Improved student performance on national exams such as the ACT, SAT, and AP is one of our district goals,” Mrs. Langley said. “Last week we reported an increase in the ACT scores and information released today reveals both an increase in the percentage of students taking and passing AP exams.”
The AP exam tests students on history, biology, calculus, chemistry, English literature and language. Students receive grades of 1 to 5 on each subject. Colleges award students who score a 3 three hours of credit. Those that score 4 or 5 can receive up to six hours.
To receive college credit a student must make a 3 or better on the exam. Mrs. Langley said all of the students taking AP US History and English, Language Arts and Literature made a 3 or better on the exams with five of six students in AP Calculus making a 3 or better. In AP Chemistry, said 31 percent of students made a 3 or better, up from 18 percent in 2009. Mrs. Langley added that 25 percent of the students taking AP Biology made a 3 or better.
Next year, the district will offer AP Art in addition to the other AP courses. Mrs. Langley said the addition of new courses is an effort to increase student participation the AP program.
“What we’re focusing on is increasing the participation in Honors and AP courses,” she said. “Sometimes students shy away from these courses because they’re concerned about their academic grade. However, we know that students that take the demanding courses are learning more and preparing themselves better for college and post-graduate educational experiences.”