08/30/07 — County scores in, down for SAT

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County scores in, down for SAT

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 30, 2007 1:46 PM

The number of students taking the SAT test in 2007 increased across the county, state and nation, although the actual scores have gone down.

The SAT -- Scholastic Aptitude Test -- measures the preparedness of students for college. Scores for 2006-07 represent data collected from 12th-grade students who took the test at any time during their high school years through March 2007.

The latest report showed that both state and national averages dropped seven points each. In Wayne County, the average dropped five points, officials said.

According to the state's Department of Public Instruction, North Carolina ranks 11th in the nation, with 71 percent of seniors taking the test.

Lynda Fuller, information and communication specialist with DPI, said 525 Wayne County students took the test in 2006, representing 47.6 percent, while 587, or 52.7 percent, took it in 2007. Scores over the same period, however, dropped from 1420 to 1415.

At the state level, she said, 52,690 took the test in 2006, with 55,114 taking it the following year. The average score in 2006 was 1493, compared to 1486 in 2007, she said.

Nationally, 48 percent of students took the test each year -- 1.47 million in 2006, 1.49 million in 2007. The average score in 2006, 1518, dropped to 1511 in 2007.

Broken down further, local officials said the decline was not as significant.

In critical reading and math, Wayne County students scores remained the same, as compared to the national one- and three-point drop, respectively. Local writing scores decreased by five points, while nationally, they went down three points.

Ken Derksen, public information officer for the school system, said that since 1990, math and reading scores in Wayne County have risen 81 points. The district average is also above many of the surrounding counties, he said, including Bladen, Cumberland, Duplin, Greene and Sampson.

The school system's top individual score in 2007 came from Charles B. Aycock High School, where a student earned a 2300, 100 points shy of a perfect score. The school's math scores are also above the state and national averages for the year, 516 versus 509.

Eastern Wayne High's math scores were also above the state average, with 510.

The highest average for a school was at Wayne Early Middle College High School, introduced in the school system last year at Wayne Community College. With seven students, or 31.8 percent, taking the test, the average score was 1601.

The school with the most significant rise in number of students taking the test was Goldsboro High. In 2006, 50 percent of students, or 75, took the SAT, with the average score being 1274. This year, 83, or 72.2 percent, took the test, with the average score being 1232.

Since every high school student does not take the SAT test, though, scores are not reflective of the schools where test takers attend, said Dr. Craig McFadden, assistant superintendent for accountability and student services.

"It is also worth noting that if a student took the test more than once, regardless of the score, the most recent score is used in the College Board report," he said.

Administrators said the school system works to help students not only prepare for the test, but to be successful after graduation. High schools now offer SAT courses and extra help sessions, with instructors working to integrate higher order thinking, vocabulary and math skills needed to do well on the test into their curriculum.

Of the 1,144 students that graduated from the seven high schools last spring, 995, or 87 percent, have continued on to college, Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor said.

"That says a lot about our students, as well as our teachers, administrators, support staff and Board of Education members who work tirelessly to give our more than 19,000 students a high-quality education," he said.