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Washington County SAT scores decline

September 01, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Washington County Public Schools officials said Tuesday they intend to pinpoint ways to improve SAT scores that dropped an average of 28 points since last year.

Donna Hanlin, assistant superintendent of secondary education for Washington County Public Schools, said during a Washington County Board of Education meeting that she was "puzzled" by the downslide.

"We do have a great deal of concern," Hanlin said.

The average SAT score of Washington County Public Schools seniors who took the test dropped from 1,508 in 2008 to 1,480 in 2009, according to documents provided by the school system. The state average among public schools was 1,478. The national average was 1,493.

The SAT is a standardized admissions test that is required by many college and universities in the United States. It tests skills in mathematics, writing and critical reading. The maximum score is 2,400.

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Hanlin said 771 seniors from Washington County high schools took the SAT during the 2008-09 school year.

Officials intend to create an SAT Study Group to find the most suitable methods to increase test scores, Hanlin said. Other plans include making the students perform more SAT-oriented work before the test is taken.

Members of the Board of Education said they were concerned about the lower scores.

"I'm hoping this is an anomaly," Board President Wayne D. Ridenour said. "I'm seeing 10-point drops ... those are statistically relevant."

Board member Ruth Anne Callaham asked Hanlin and her co-presenters, Director of High School Education Clyde Harrell and Supervisor of Testing and Accountability Jeremy Jakoby, about the percentage of minority students who took the test.

"Could that be part of the downward trend?" she asked.

Callaham said after the meeting she based her question on information from an article she was reading online during the meeting.

She said although many minorities do very well on the SAT, others may face language challenges, particularly naturalized citizens.

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