What is the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and what does it mean for students?
In these competitive admissions times, four-year colleges seek students with high aptitude for college completion, particularly as state and federal legislators begin the conversation of tying college funding to student retention and completion, thus college graduation rates.
I've seen this coming. I have strong ideas about advisement, retention and college completion that don't risk turning four-year schools into degree mills, but that's for another day.
The College Board website succinctly describes the SAT as follows: "The SAT and SAT Subject Tests are a suite of tools designed to assess your academic readiness for college. These exams provide a path to opportunities, financial support and scholarships, in a way that's fair to all students. The SAT and SAT Subject Tests keep pace with what colleges are looking for today, measuring the skills required for success in the 21st century."
But is it fair to students to offer one public school option if it is characterized by lagging aptitude? And will we refuse to offer those students a way out of failure in the face of evidence of low percentages of HOPE scholarship eligibility?
Locally SAT scores show an increase in test-takers at Alcovy High but a 10-point drop in critical reading and a 12-point drop in math.
Eastside High increased test-takers realizing an 8-point increase in critical reading and a 12-point increase in math.
Newton High saw a decrease in test-takers but a 15-point increase in reading and a 4-point increase in math.
The following fiscal year 2012 scores represent local high schools in SAT critical reading where a score of 800 is possible: Alcovy (445), Newton (443), Eastside (489), Morgan High (487), Social Circle (495), Heritage (500), Rockdale (458), Salem (449), Walnut Grove (465), Monroe Area (427), Loganville (465) and Jasper at 457.
Enter math scores, also with a possible score of 800, and the following is current: Alcovy (428), Newton (430), Eastside (470), Morgan (497), Social Circle (464), Heritage (495), Rockdale (454), Salem (428), Walnut Grove (465), Monroe Area (425), Loganville (469) and Jasper High at 454.
Putnam County High realized an SAT reading of 500 with a math mean of 496. Oconee County High produced a 523 mean in both SAT reading and math, and Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology rose to a reading SAT of 639 and math of 680.
So how do schools with decreasing scores explain them and will new local school plans for improvement offer accountability to taxpayers, many of whom support options for students locked in schools with a zero tolerance policy for just about everything except low student achievement?
Zero-based budgeting placing abundant and exclusive priority to high-quality classroom teachers is a start.
Next, systems must appoint principals who are veteran instructional leaders at their level from day one. We cannot afford background knowledge to be built on the backs of students who deserve successful places called school.
Jeff Meadors may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org