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Scores on SAT decline
NCSS students below state, US

COVINGTON - On average students in the Newton County School System continued to score below state and national averages on the SAT.

Results released last week by the Newton County School System showed that the averages on each section of the test at all three NCSS high schools, as well as the totals at all three high schools and at the system level, were below state averages again this year.

"Our SAT scores are certainly not where we would like to see them as a system," said Dr. Linda Hayden, associate superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction at NCSS, in a press release. "Much work and disaggregation of data will go into determining why certain areas were low. We will work with teachers to push our students even more academically so that they can compete beyond high school for the top tier universities. We want our students very prepared for college life."

The SAT is a national college entrance exam that assesses how well students analyze and solve problems; typically students take it during their junior and/or senior year of high school. Each section has a possible score from 200 to 800.

The total system average - which the College Board reported collectively from the most recent scores achieved by students - this year was 1378, while the state average was 1460 and the national average was 1509.

Eastside High School saw the highest total average in the system with 1396. On individual sections, the 112 students who took the test scored an average of 474 on reading and 461 on both math and writing. This is down from the 2008 total of 1419.

"We are not satisfied with the overall decrease in our SAT results," said Dennis Roddenberry, principal of Eastside High School. "Our plan is to develop strategies that can assist our student body with testing strategies and overall performance on all formal assessments. Even with the decrease in the SAT results, we must add that Eastside's 2009 graduating class received over $6 million in scholarship offers to colleges and technical schools."

Newton High School's 112 students scored 1371 on average this year, posting scores on the individual sections of 463 in reading, 451 in math and 457 in writing. The total is down from 1389 in 2008.

"The College Prep with Distinction students continue to display the level of academic achievement we expect from all Newton High students," said Dr. Roderick Sams, principal of Newton High School. "Preparation of students for post-secondary educational opportunities will continue to be a goal for Newton High School. We will continue to focus on promoting academic excellence on all assessments, including the Scholastic Aptitude Test."

Nearly 100 students at Alcovy High School scored an average of 1367, down from 1372 in 2008. On the individual sections, students scored 462 in reading, 454 in math and 451 in writing.

"The 2009 SAT scores for the first graduating class of Alcovy High School that has matriculated their entire high school career indicates that the students are encouraged and motivated to attend college and other institutions of higher learning," said Dr. LaQuanda Brown, principal of Alcovy High School. "The latest SAT score reports indicate that there is still much to be accomplished in an effort to prepare our students for success on the SAT. The reports also indicate that much attention must be focused on rigorous instructional practices and assessment measures that reflect students thinking on deeper levels in the content areas. It is a daily practice of the teachers at AHS to prepare students for academic success that will garner positive attention on their performance from the district, state and national levels."

In addition to scoring below the state, NCSS on average also is scoring lower than last year's students. Last year, students scored 1391, compared to the state average of 1453 and national average of 1495.

"Although the SAT data are not a indication of where we would like to be statistically, we are continuously working towards addressing these areas of concern through disaggregation of the data to determine where to place our efforts to improve the scores in an effort to help our students compete nationally and globally," said Dr. Carl Skinner, the director of Testing, Research and Evaluation at NCSS.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: By the numbers

2009 SAT Results - Newton County School System

High School/Number of Test Takers/Reading/Math/Writing/Total/2008 Total

Alcovy/99/462/454/451/1367/1372

Eastside/112/474/461/461/1396/1419

Newton/112/463/451/457/1371/1389

NCSS/323/467/455/456/1378/1391

State/63,440/490/491/479/1460/1453

Nation/1,530,128/501/515/493/1509/1495

Source: Newton County School System