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Autry: Rockdale SAT scores improving, but there's still room for improvement

CONYERS — The average SAT score for Rockdale County students has increased by 29 points since the 2010-11 school year, but Superintendent Rich Autry told Board of Education members there is still much work to be done.

“We are pleased with the trajectory, but we realize there is a long way to go,” he said at the BOE work session Thursday night. “We have to start with improving first before we get to our end destination.”

Rockdale’s average SAT score increased seven points between 2010-11 and 22 points between 2011-12 and 2012-13. The total average score in 2013 was 1,378.

While SAT test prep classes are offered to students, Autry gave most credit for the gains to increased rigor in the classroom.

“You’ve got to expose our young people — and this includes our parents in our community — to high-level vocabulary, high-level reading lists and very high-level problem-solving activities,” Autry said. “Because this is not just your reading test, math test, science test. This is an integration of all content areas and it measures a lot of different abilities and intellects.”

While Rockdale’s average score has shown an upward trend, it still falls below the state and national averages of 1,452 and 1,498, respectively.

“No doubt that we have significant room for improvement and there is a gap to be closed,” said Autry. “We always want to be above the national average.”

When broken down by demographics, blacks and Hispanics outpaced their counterparts at the state and national levels.

Black students in Rockdale scored an average of 1,303, compared to 1,276 at the state level and 1,278 at the national level. Four hundred twenty-seven black students in Rockdale County took the SAT in 2012-13.

Rockdale’s Hispanic students scored 1,464 on the SAT in 2012-13, which exceeds the state score for Hispanics by 119 points and the national score by 109 points. The SAT was taken by 23 Rockdale Hispanic students in 2012-13.

White students in Rockdale County Public Schools scored an average of 1,523, which is 20 points less than the state average and 53 points less than the national average for whites. One hundred eighty-eight white Rockdale students took the SAT in 2012-13.

Between the years 2009 and 2013, Hispanics have shown the greatest increase in average scores, from 1,294 in 2009 to 1,464, a gain of 170 points. Blacks gained 28 points over the same time period, Asians gained four points and scores for whites decreased by seven points.