Rockdale SAT scores rise, but still below state (Sept. 25, 2012)
RCHS, Heritage, Salem named AP Honor Schools (Feb. 7, 2012)
Rockdale subgroups score above national subgroups on ACT (Aug. 19, 2010)
SAT scores drop in county, ACT scores hold steady (Aug. 25, 2009)
2013 SAT mean scores
(Critical reading, math, writing)
Heritage (263 test takers)
Rockdale County High School (269 test takers)
Salem High School (174 test takers)
2012 SAT mean scores
(Critical reading, math, writing)
Heritage (218 test takers)
Rockdale County High School (284 test takers)
Salem High School (188 test takers)
Rockdale County Public Schools students' SAT scores rose significantly for 2013, despite an increase in the number of test takers, but remains below the state average, according to data released Thursday by the College Board.
RCPS students scored an overall 1,378 - increase of 22 points from the previous year. This is the second year in a row Rockdale SAT scores have increased.
Statewide, scores on the SAT college entrance exam was flat this year, mirroring the nation. Georgia's students graduating in 2013 scored an overall 1,452, compared to the national average of 1,498. An increase was seen in critical reading (+2), while a decrease was seen in math (-2). There was no change in the writing score of 468.
The individual subject mean scores for each RCPS school increased as well, except math for Salem. Heritage and Salem saw increased test takers but still saw increased mean scores. The more students that take a standardized test, the lower the mean score tends to be.
Heritage High School saw the greatest influx of students taking the test - 45 more students. Its scores also increased in critical reading (+7), math (+7), and writing (+12).
Rockdale County High saw 15 fewer students taking the test. Increases were seen in critical reading (+8), math (+7), and writing (+7).
Salem saw 14 students more students taking the test. Increases were seen in critical reading (+3), math (+6). Its mean writing score dropped slightly (-3).
"I am excited to see the upward trend continue with our SAT scores, especially in light of the fact that this was one of the highest numbers of RCPS students taking the exam." said RCPS Superintendent Richard Autry. "We have had a multi-year focus at every level on increasing rigor in all of our classrooms, raising expectations for our students, and challenging students to move beyond the mindset of simply meeting the minimum standards. Tests such as the SAT cannot be significantly increased through short-term preparation programs or memorization strategies. Both parents and educators must begin exposing students to higher level concepts, complex reading material, and sophisticated problem solving activities at an early age. As a school district, our vision is to continue to provide increased opportunities for advanced and enriched learning that exceeds that of the basic curriculum. As these opportunities expand, we predict that achievement on the SAT and other assessments will continue on a positive growth trend as we strive to exceed both state and national averages."
Seventy-five percent of Georgia's 2013 senior class took the SAT - more than 72,000 students - compared to the national participation rate of 43 percent. Georgia has the ninth highest participation rate in the nation. States with higher participation rates typically see lower average scores on the test and often see dips when the number of students taking the exam increases.
Last year, Georgia's SAT score increased seven points, even as the nation lost ground on the test.
"While we didn't see the same gains this year that we did in 2012, I am proud that our students held their ground on the SAT," said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. "We expect to see even better scores in the coming years as students become more engaged in their high school classes under our Career Pathways/Clusters initiative."
College and Career Readiness Benchmarks
Thirty-six percent of SAT takers in the Georgia class of 2013 also met the SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark.
An analysis of this year's graduating class shows that students who meet the benchmark are more likely to have completed a core curriculum (defined as four or more years of English and three or more years each of mathematics, natural science, and social science or history). They are also more likely to have taken honors or AP courses, more likely to have taken higher-level mathematics courses (i.e., pre-calculus, calculus, or trigonometry) and more likely to be in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class by GPA.
Of the Georgia SAT takers who met the benchmark:
83 percent completed a core curriculum, compared to 67 percent of those who did not achieve the benchmark.
86 percent took honors or AP courses, compared to 43 percent of those who did not achieve the benchmark.
83 percent took higher-level mathematics courses, compared to 63 percent of those who did not achieve the benchmark.
52 percent were in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class, compared to 16 percent of those who did not achieve the benchmark.
"We know the percentage of students meeting the SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark is far too low," said Superintendent Barge. "This percentage is almost identical to the percentage of students who met the benchmark on our most recent End of Course Test in coordinate algebra, showing that regardless of the test, we have to prepare our students more quickly for the world that awaits them after high school."
Closing the achievement gap
The largest percentage of minority students ever participated in the SAT in Georgia this year.
Forty-six percent (33,243 students) of the state's 2013 college-bound seniors who took the SAT, were minority students, up from 43 percent (28,574 students) in the class of 2009.
Students who are typically underrepresented in higher education - African American, American Indian, and Hispanic/Latino students - made up 37 percent of all SAT takers in the Georgia class of 2013, up from 35 percent five years ago.
Hispanic students in Georgia's schools continue to outperform their peers across the country on the SAT. In Georgia, Hispanic students scored an average of 1,401, compared to the national average of 1,354. African-American students in Georgia outperformed their peers nationally in both critical reading and writing, with mean scores of 433 (2 points higher than the nation) and 419 (1 point higher than the nation).
The achievement gap between African-American students in Georgia and their white classmates on the SAT is 176 points in Georgia, 44 points lower than the same achievement gap nationally. For Hispanic students, the achievement gap in Georgia is 51 points, compared to the national achievement gap of 144 points.
The Value of a Core Curriculum and Rigorous Course Work
Completing a core curriculum and pursuing rigorous course work are two critical components of college readiness, and the students who do so tend to perform better on the SAT. Georgia students who completed a core curriculum - defined as four or more years of English, three or more years of mathematics, three or more years of natural science and three or more years of social science and history - did better on the SAT than those who did not complete those classes.
All 2013 Georgia SAT Takers
Critical Reading Mathematics Writing
Core Curriculum 500 498 486
Non-Core Curriculum 457 453 442
Difference +43 +45 +44