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Local SAT scores decline again
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Scores on the SATs have continued to decline in Newton County, but students here aren't alone. Not only are scores down in the state but nationally as well.

Scores for the SAT were released earlier this week, and locally the scores decreased by nine points in reading, 11 in math and 11 in writing. In Georgia, scores decreased by three points in reading, two in math and one in writing, and nationwide scores decreased by three in reading, two in math and one in writing.

A national college entrance exam used by some colleges and universities to measure critical thinking, the SAT assesses student's abilities to analyze and solve problems. Each section is scored on a scale of 200-800 with two writing sub-scores for multiple choice and essay. Generally taken by juniors and seniors, the SAT is given seven times a year, and students may take it multiple times, using the highest score to send to colleges and universities.

According to an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia's 1445 average score trailed the national average of 1500, which was also down six points, and Georgia ranked 48th among the states. However, 80 percent of Georgia seniors took the test last year, compared with only 5 percent who took the test in Illinois, a top-ranked state. Georgia has the fifth highest participation rate in the U.S.

"Compared to ACT results for last year's graduating class, the same group's SAT results are not improved with the release of [this week's] figures," said Superintendent Gary Mathews. "The fact is no matter how we choose to slice and dice these result; we simply must do better at preparing our students for a post-secondary education. Indeed, a recent study reported in The Wall Street Journal points out the fact that over the next decade, nearly two?thirds of job openings will require some postsecondary education. The study insists that schools must do a better job of preparing students to graduate from college. Do I believe this and other studies are generally correct? Yes. However, imagine what schools could do if each and every parent insisted on their children being post-secondary or ‘college ready.'

"While our schools can control what they do during the school day, we need parents to help us insist on homework, academic rigor, classroom discipline and an overarching recognition of what schools are for - a preparation for the future," he said. "While we will accept no excuses on the part of educators, we are seeking parent support of the educational process at home. Kids need a place at home to do homework and insistence each evening that it be completed before all else; kids need to be challenged at school, even as we build their background knowledge; kids need to know that they do not have the right to disrupt the learning of others and that attention to the teacher is vital; and kids need to know that what they get out of school will foretell what they will get out of life. If the school and home work together, we will dramatically increase the odds that students will be post-secondary or college ready."

Alcovy High School
Scores at AHS dropped in all categories. Reading dropped by five points, while math and writing saw a 16 and 17-point decrease. The school's reading score is 30 points below state average, math and writing are 47 and 41 points below state average. In the last five years the SAT scores at AHS have been up and down. Starting out in 2007, the school's average score for reading was 444, which jumped up to 464 in 2009 before coming in this year at 455.

Eastside High School
Eastside's scores were below the state level in each category as well: in reading by four points, in math by 29 and in writing by seven. EHS started out in 2007 with 496 in reading, 493 in math and 478 in writing. In the last five years, EHS has scored above or at the same level as both other high schools in the county. This year scores dipped to 481 in reading, 468 in writing and 470 in math.

Newton High School
Newton High School also saw a drop in all three categories on the SATs. Reading scores dropped by 16 points, math by five and writing by 11. The school was 57 points below the state's average in reading, 61 below in math and 51 below in writing. NHS has declined steadily the last five years in reading, starting out at 478 in 2007 and dropping to 428 this year. Scores peaked in writing in 2007 at 459 and have since dropped to 422. In math, scores have declined each year, from 479 in 2007 to 426 this year.

In neighboring Rockdale County, scores at all three of their high schools have decreased as well. Heritage High School SAT reading scores decreased by 27 points, math by 14 and writing by 29, according to a press release. At Rockdale County High School, reading decreased by 12, math by 11 and writing by 15; and at Salem High School, reading went down 14 points, math 15 and writing seven.

The state's top scoring school was Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology, according to the AJC. The average score there was 1914 (out of a possible 2400). Prior to this year, the state's highest scoring school for several years was Northview High in North Fulton County, which has an average score this year of 1751.