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Panhandle SAT scores move upward

September 07, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

SAT scores among Eastern Panhandle high-schoolers improved following stepped-up efforts by school officials to help sharpen test-taking skills.

In Jefferson County schools, SAT prep courses are being offered to students and in Berkeley County schools, a computer program known as "Plato" is available to help students prepare for the college entrance exam, school officials said.

Statewide, high school students scored 12 points above the national average on the SAT this year, while math scores lagged four points below the national average, according to The College Board, a New York-based nonprofit that owns the Scholastic Aptitude Test.

West Virginia students averaged 524 in the verbal section and 514 in math for a combined total of 1,038 out of a possible 1,600 points. Nationally, the average was a combined score of 1,026.

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About 19 percent of West Virginia's 17,261 high school students who graduated this year took the SAT, up from 16.8 percent in 1994. Most college-bound students in West Virginia - 65 percent - opted instead to take the ACT.

Results of that test were released earlier this month, and also showed West Virginia students improving, although they still lagged behind the national average in most areas except English.

According to local school officials, average SAT scores at Eastern Panhandle schools were as follows:

· Martinsburg High School: average verbal score, 495; average math score, 471. In 2002-03, the average verbal score at the school was 485 and the average math score was 459.

· Hedgesville High School: average verbal score, 525; average math score, 500. In 2002-03, the average verbal score was 518 and the average math score was 491.

· Musselman High School: average verbal score, 500; average math score, 493. The previous year, the average verbal score was 501 and the average math score was 472.

· Jefferson High School: average verbal score, 518; average math score, 504. The previous year, the average verbal score was 515 and the average math score was 490.

· Berkeley Springs High School: average verbal score, 535; average math score, 495. In 2002-03, the average verbal score was 540 and the average math score was 491.

In Berkeley County, students have had access to the "Plato" computer program for about three years, said Donna Miller, director of instruction for Berkeley County Schools.

Other efforts school officials have taken to help boost SAT scores include encouraging high school students to take four years of math instead of the required three years, and increasing emphasis on writing and vocabulary in classes, Miller said.

In Jefferson County, an organization known as First in Your Family has been helping to establish SAT prep courses, Jefferson County Board of Education President Lori Stilley said. Stilley said she also has been encouraged by the fact that the number of Jefferson High School students attending college has increased by about 15 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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