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Posted: August 30, 2009 12:30 a.m.

SAT scores rise, still below state average

SAT scores have been released, and Newton County has scored below the state average, though many schools saw an increase in their numbers.

In the state, 63,440 students took the SATs and 323 of those students were in Newton County. At Alcovy High School 99 students were tested, and 112 students took the tests at both Eastside and Newton High Schools.

The SAT is divided into three sections, and each section is scored on a scale of 200-800 and tests student knowledge in math, reading and writing. The exam is given several times a year, and students may take the test as many times as they choose.

According to a press release from the Newton County School System, this is the second year in a row that more than 300 students have taken the test in Newton County.

System-wide, students scored a 467 in reading while the state average was a 490 and the national average was a 501. In math, the system scored a 455. The state average was a 491 and the national average was 515. Lastly, in reading, students in Newton County scored an average 456, while state-wide scores were 479 and nationally the average was 493.

"Our SAT scores are certainly not where we would like to see them as a system," said Associate Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Linda Hayden. "Much work and disaggregation of data will go into determining why certain areas are 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."

Students tested as college prep with distinction scored higher than state test-takers in reading and writing, and just 13 points below the national average for math.

At AHS, the average reading score was a 462, the average math was 454 and the average writing 451. At EHS, the average reading score was 474, the average math was 461 and the average writing score was 461. At NHS, the average reading score was 463, the average math was 451 and the average writing score was a 457.

The AHS scores increased by six percent in reading and maintained their writing score, but did see a decrease in math, with an 11 point decline. Overall, AHS students averaged a composite score of 1367, according to the press release. However, the college prep with distinction students who took the test scored above the state average in all categories and performed better than the national average in both reading and writing, falling just seven points under the national average in math.

"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 principal Dr. LaQuanda Brown. "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."

The average scores at EHS showed a decrease in all areas with a four percent decrease in reading, an 11 percent decrease in math and an eight percent decrease in writing. The composite score was 1396. College prep with distinction students at EHS scored above the state and nation in every category.

"We are not satisfied with the overall decrease in our SAT results," said Dennis Roddenberry, principal of EHS. "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 $6,000,000 in scholarships and offers to colleges and technical schools."

NHS saw a five point increase in their writing score, but a one point decrease in reading and a 22 point decrease in math. The school’s composite score was 1371. The school’s college prep with distinction test-takers passed the state and national average in reading and writing.

"The college prep with distinction students continue to display the level of academic achievement we expect from all Newton High students," said principal Dr. Roderick Sams. "Preparation of students for postsecondary 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 SAT."

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