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More WCPS seniors taking SAT and scoring better on it

Washington County school board gets sneak peek at results from partial year

February 07, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

So far, Washington County Public Schools are on track to improve the number of seniors who have taken the SAT during their high school careers, possibly exceeding 900 seniors, a school testing official said Tuesday.

Seniors’ average SAT scores on the college entrance exam for reading and math also are up slightly from last year, according to documents presented Tuesday at a Washington County Board of Education meeting.

“I’m pleased with the participation,” said Donna Hanlin, assistant superintendent for curriculum, school administration and improvement.

Hanlin said she also was pleased with the general upward trend in scores, although that could change because there are more SAT test-taking dates.

Officials usually wait for full SAT results from the school year to present to the board, but this year they gave board members an unofficial look at how the school system is doing part of the way through the year, Hanlin said.

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In 2011, 815 seniors, or 53.4 percent of students who received a high school diploma in 2011, took the SATs, according to presentation documents and school officials.

As of Dec. 3, 2011, 808 seniors had taken the SAT, the documents said.

Typically, the number of seniors who take the SATs the rest of the school year increases about 15 percent, said Jeremy Jakoby, supervisor of testing and accountability.

Jakoby estimated that slightly more than 900 of this year’s seniors could end up having taken the SAT during their high school career.

This year’s senior class is similar in size to last year’s class, he said.

According to autumn enrollment data, there were 1,529 seniors this past fall compared with 1,526 seniors in the fall of 2010.

The average math score so far this school year was 518 compared to 504 last year, the documents said.

The average reading score was 499 this school year compared to 495 last year, while the average writing score remained the same at 489.

School officials said one of the things they noticed was the average reading and writing scores for seniors at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts in Hagerstown were at or near the top among other county high schools’ average SAT scores, but their math average was among the lowest, Hanlin said.

Looking for possible reasons, they discovered that 14 of the 28 Ingram seniors who took the SAT were not taking a math class this school year,  officials said.

Of the 14 seniors taking a math class, most were taking a nonhonors math class, they said.

Starting with this school year’s freshmen, students who want to earn a University System of Maryland “completer” designation upon graduation must take a math course each year of high school, Jakoby said.

The University System of Maryland completer program is generally pursued by college-bound students, although there are other completers college-bound students can earn, he said.

This past fall, schools were provided a list of 238 seniors recommended to take or retake the SATs to improve their scores, Hanlin said. Of those, 116 had retaken the test, she said.

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