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SAT scores down slightly in Pa. schools

August 31, 2007|By DON AINES and JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The average scores slipped for Franklin County's high school students taking the SATs in 2007, with scores generally lower in the reading, math and writing portions of the test.

The exception was the Greencastle-Antrim School District, which saw increases in two of the three areas tested.

"These are the best results we've ever had," said C. Gregory Hoover, Greencastle's acting district superintendent.

The district also set local records by having 125 teenagers take the test, Hoover said.

From 2006 to 2007, Chambersburg Area Senior High School's reading scores fell six points to 500, while math scores were down one point to 500. In the writing portion of the test, the average score was 484, compared to 493 in 2006, the first year the writing component was included in the SATs.

Despite the drop, Chambersburg's students did, on average, barely outperform the more than 105,000 other Pennsylvania high schoolers who took the test. Pennsylvania's reading score was unchanged at 493, math scores dropped a point to 499 and writing scores also fell a point to 482.

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Nationally, scores also fell, with reading scores among the 1.5 million children taking the test falling one point to 502, math scores down three points to 515 and writing off three points to 494. The maximum score on any portion of the test is 800.

Chambersburg's scores also fell despite fewer students taking the test, down from 320 in 2006 to 292 in the past school year. An online SAT preparation program offered by the district also did not bear fruit this year.

"Obviously, that's something we're going to look at this year," Eric Michael, assistant superintendent for secondary services, said of the online program, which students could access in school or at home. About 170 students participated in the offering, but Michael said he did not have figures for how many completed the program.

"It should be concerning us as a nation," Michael said. There is a movement across the nation to make education more rigorous and "reinventing those high schools on a curriculum level to compete in the world market," he said.

Waynesboro Area Senior High School's scores fell from 2006 as well.

Juniors and seniors there averaged 502 in critical reading, 489 in math and 481 in writing. The scores were down about 13 points from the year before.

Changes in the test in recent years make it difficult to form comparisons, said Gloria Walker, assistant superintendent of the Waynesboro Area School District.

Scores traditionally fluctuate by class, she said.

"We do have a SAT prep course," Walker said. "We encourage all of our students to take the SAT even if they (just) want to think about college."

Mercersburg's James Buchanan High School had 180 SAT records from 2007, meaning about 65 more students took the test than the previous year. The school, which is in the Tuscarora School District, had scores from 310 to 730.

"A lot of juniors and seniors took the test," Tuscarora Superintendent Rebecca Erb said. "Whenever you look at the scores, the ranges are really huge."

Tuscarora's scores were down in critical reading and writing, but were up slightly over last year's math scores.

Hoover attributed Greencastle's favorable scores to the district's dual enrollment program, college academy and graduation project class.

"We have made a concerted effort over the past years to raise our standards not only in what is required of our students, but in each individual class," he said. "I believe we are seeing the results of that effort."

Staff writer Ashley Hartman contributed to this story.




Sample questions



Here are two sample questions from the 2007 SAT, according to the College Board Web site.

Although some think the terms "bug" and "insect" are ------- , the former term actually refers to ------- group of insects.

(A) parallel . . an identical

(B) precise . . an exact

(C) interchangeable . . a particular

(D) exclusive . . a separate

(E) useful . . a useless

Correct answer: C

The addition of descriptive details to the basic information serves to ------- the book by producing a fuller account.

(A) invalidate

(B) objectify

(C) incite

(D) celebrate

(E) enrich

Correct answer: E

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