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Rockdale SAT scores rise slightly

CONYERS - Rockdale students SAT scores went up slightly from last year, following the state trend and bucking the national trend.

Rockdale County Public Schools system's composite mean score of 1332 is up by one point from last year's score of 1331.

Rockdale County High's composite mean score of 1358, which include scores from Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, was the highest of the three main high schools. Heritage scored the next highest at 1346, followed by Salem High at 1277.

About 808 students from RCPS took the test in 2015.

Last year, RCPS's system score had dropped by 47 points to 1331, compared to 2013's score of 1378. RCPS's scores had jumped significantly for two consecutive years before that, increasing by 22 points in 2012.

"We just received these preliminary reports and will take the necessary time to analyze our scores," said RCPS Superintendent Richard Autry. "While we are encouraged by the slight increase, we do have work to do to close the gap between our scores and the state and national averages."

Statewide in 2015, Georgia students' SAT scores increased five points to 1450. The national average dropped seven points to 1490.

Last year, the state mean fell seven points to 1445 while the nation dropped by one point to 1497.

for 2015, Georgia students' mean score for critical reading increased by two points, from 488 to 490, and the mean score for writing increased by three points, from 472 to 475. The mean score for math remained at 485. Nationally, the mean scores for critical reading and math each dropped two points, and the mean score for writing dropped three points.

"I'm encouraged by these score increases because they signal that more students may be prepared for college-level work," State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. "As we continue to realign the focus of the Georgia Department of Education and pursue child-focused, classroom-centered policies, I believe we will see continued increases in SAT scores and other key indicators."

In Georgia, 76.9 percent of students from the class of 2015 took the SAT - a total of 72,898 students. Of that group, 39.8 percent were underrepresented minority students, up from 38.8 percent in 2014 and 38.1 percent in 2011.

Each section of the SAT is scored on a scale of 200-800, with two Writing sub-scores for multiple-choice and the essay.

School officials advised that students should be sure to complete the necessary core academic and Advanced Placement courses before taking college entrance exams and pointed out there is free SAT preparation available to students.

RCPS also has a guide for parents and students called "Map Your Future" which outlines the approach and timeline for preparing to take college entrance exams beginning at the middle school level.

"SAT scores cannot be significantly increased through short-term preparation programs or memorization strategies. Students must be exposed to higher level concepts, complex reading material, and sophisticated problem solving activities at an early age," read a statement from the school system.

The SAT test is administered seven times a year in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and U.S. Territories, and six times a year overseas. Students may take the test multiple times over multiple years. Colleges and universities will use, for admission purposes, the highest score from a testing category; regardless of how many times the student has taken the test. The College Board, however, only reports collectively the most recent scores achieved by students.

RCPS recommends the following guidelines for students to be successful with college entrance exams:

Know which entrance exam is required by the college for which you are applying (ACT, SAT, PLAN).
Take the exam as late as possible. Ideally, students should take entrance exams at the beginning of their senior year after successful completion of core content courses.
Students should complete at least one Advanced Placement (AP) course prior to testing.
Students should complete the official College Board SAT prep program offered free of charge at each high school.
Students should attend the free one-week summer SAT prep workshop.
Follow the RCPS Map Your Future which is a basic guide for preparation beginning in middle school. All middle and high schools have copies of the guide.
Increase exposure to complex reading material at home through material such as the Wall Street Journal or Wall Street Journal for kids.