SAT scores drop for Ge­or­gia stu­dents

Scores down na­tion­wide

The Covington News - - LOCAL NEWS - By Dorie Turner

AT­LANTA — Ge­or­gia’s 2007 high school grad­u­at­ing class per­formed worse on the SAT col­lege-en­trance exam than the class be­fore them, even as the state’s rank re­mained the same com­pared to other states.

The re­port on the slip in scores comes a year af­ter Gov. Sonny Per­due and state schools Su­per­in­ten­dent Kathy Cox — both of whom were run­ning for re-elec­tion at the time — touted Ge­or­gia’s im­prove­ment on the test.

Over­all, the nearly 60,000 stu­dents who took the stan­dard­ized test in Ge­or­gia scored an av­er­age of 1,472 out of a pos­si­ble 2,400, a five-point drop from last year. The na­tion’s av­er­age score fell seven points to 1,511.

Ge­or­gia still ranks 46th in the na­tion for SAT scores, the same as last year, which was a slight im­prove­ment over 2005’s last place fin­ish for the state.

The test’s ad­min­is­tra­tors, the Col­lege Board, dis­cour­ages the use of the test scores to com­pare ed­u­ca­tion from state to state be­cause the per­cent­age of stu­dents who take them varies widely.

Close to 70 per­cent of Geor- gia’s se­niors took the SAT, the 13th high­est par­tic­i­pa­tion rate in the na­tion and a slight in­crease from last year. The state had the largest rate of black stu­dents tak­ing the test in the na­tion with 26 per­cent.

Typ­i­cally, states with larger pools of test tak­ers fare worse in the rank­ings.

Ge­or­gia stu­dents scored the same as last year — an av­er­age of 494 — on the crit­i­cal read­ing por­tion of the test. The math score dropped one point to 495, and the writ­ing score de­clined four points to 483.

Cox called the scores “good news” when they are com­pared how the na­tion per­formed.

“In terms of the over­all pic­ture, the fact the whole na­tion went down doesn’t make me quite as wor­ried as if it was just Ge­or­gia and not the rest of the coun­try,” Cox said in a tele­phone in­ter­view.

The state has a new math cur­ricu­lum in place that will help ad­dress some of the lag­ging scores, she said. But that kind of cur­ricu­lum takes a few years to ac­tu­ally show re­sults be­cause stu­dents have to cy­cle through the ed­u­ca­tional pipe­line, she said.

“The scores showed me we’re on the right track. We just have to keep at it,” Cox said.

Per­due said he’s proud that so many Ge­or­gians take the test.

“While we never like to gain ground by al­low­ing our scores to go down, Ge­or­gia was again able to close the gap with the na­tional av­er­age, con­tin­u­ing a pos­i­tive trend for the sixth year in a row,” Per­due said.

The high school class of 2006 recorded the sharpest drop in SAT scores in 31 years, in part be­cause some stu­dents took a re­vamped, length­ened test only once in­stead of twice, ac­cord­ing to the Col­lege Board, which owns the exam.

The new test in­cluded higher-level math ques­tions, added a writ­ing por­tion for the first time ever and elim­i­nated analo­gies.

The Col­lege Board in­sisted the new exam wasn’t harder and at­trib­uted last year’s drop to fewer stu­dents tak­ing the exam a sec­ond time. Stu­dents typ­i­cally fare about 30 points bet­ter when they take the exam again.

The Col­lege Board’s score re­port, re­leased Tues­day morn­ing, did not of­fer an ex­pla­na­tion why this year’s scores were even lower, but it did note that a record num­ber of stu­dents — just short of 1.5 mil­lion — took the test.

Jeff Hub­bard, pres­i­dent of the Ge­or­gia As­so­ci­a­tion of Ed­u­ca­tors, said schools need proper fund­ing to en­sure they can help stu­dents do well on stan­dard­ized tests like the SAT.

“It still shows we have a long way to go to meet needs of Ge­or­gia stu­dents,” he said.

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