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SAT scores up; students still score below state average

By Kathy Chaffin
kchaffin@salisburypost.com
Though Rowan-Salisbury School System’s Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) scores continued to trail the state and national averages this past school year, the average score was up eight points from last year.
With 619 students tested, the average combined score for math, reading and writing was 1442. This is 44 points below the state average of 1486 and 67 points below the national average of 1509.
Students can score a maximum of 2400 on the test.
Salisbury High School had the highest average of 1483, followed by Jesse Carson High with 1451, East Rowan High with 1448, South Rowan High with 1431, West Rowan High with 1424 and North Rowan High with 1382.
The high schools’ scores compared to their 2007-2008 scores as follows: Salisbury, up 94 points; Jesse Carson, down 50 points; East, down 6; South, down 41; West, down 3; and North, up 3.
Statewide, the 2008-2009 SAT scores were down 3 points from the previous year. Nationally, scores were down by 2 points.
The SAT includes sections on math, reading and writing.
The Rowan-Salisbury School System’s average score on the math section this past year was 506, 5 points below the state average and 11 below the national average.
This compares with a 501 average score the previous year, 10 points below the state average and 14 points below the national average.
Math scores by school, from highest to lowest, are as follows: East Rowan, 517, up 10 points from the previous year; Salisbury, 516, up 34; Carson, 508, down 13; South, 500, down 21; West, 494, down 6; and North, 492, up 11.
The school system’s average reading score for the 2008-2009 school year was 479 as compared to the state average of 495 and the national average of 501.
This was up 3 points from the 476 score the previous year, when the state average was 496 and the national average, 502.
Reading scores by school as compared to the previous year are as follows: Salisbury, 490, up 27; Carson, 485, down 16; East, 479, down 4; West, 478, up 4; South, 473, down 14; and North, 456, down 3.
The system’s average writing score was 457, which compares to the state average of 480 and the national average of 493.
The previous year, the Rowan-Salisbury School System’s average writing score was 457 as compared to the 482 state average and the 494 national average.
Scores by school for the 2008-2009 school year as compared to the previous year are as follows: Salisbury, 477, up 33 points; South, 458, down 6; West, 452, down 1; East, 452, down 12; and North, 434, down 5.
Though pleased with the eight-point increase in the overall average, Colby Cochran, the school system’s accountability director, said school officials “cannot attribute the increase to a particular activity or program or view it as the result of any one specific effort.”
Cochran said students who plan to continue their education beyond high school are encouraged to take challenging courses and work hard to succeed in those courses.
A total of 619 students in the Rowan-Salisbury School System took the SAT this past school year, 45.9 percent of those eligible. This compares with the 63 percent of eligible students who took the test statewide and 46 percent nationally.
The previous year, 625 Rowan-Salisbury students took the test, 50.6 percent of those eligible.
At A.L. Brown, the only high school in the Kannapolis City Schools, 81 students took the SAT as compared to 94 the previous year.
The average score was 1445 as compared to 1473 the previous year, according to Dr. Debra Morris, who left her position as principal of A.L. Brown this year to become the school system’s assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.
Morris said the average math score of 496 “took a major hit” as compared to the 2007-2008 school year average of 519. The average reading score for this past year was 479, she said, the same as for the previous year.
A.L. Brown students scored an average of 470 in writing this past year, she said, down 5 points.
“That’s not a major thing,” Morris said. “The math was major … I don’t think there’s any one thing you can put your finger on and say why we went down on math. I know that we have emphasized the reading and writing a lot.”
Morris said she was sure that former associate principal Kevin Garay, who replaced her as principal this year, will look at ways to increase students’ math scores.
Gray Stone Day School, a charter high school at Pfeiffer University, ranked 12th in the state with an average score of 1662.
“We are very excited about how well the students performed,” said Helen Nance, chief administrative officer for the school. “These scores make us one of the top performing public high schools in the state. Most of the other schools that scored higher are in urban areas, and this shows we are preparing our students to compete on a global level.
“Our students are prepared to meet the rigors of college curriculum.”
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249.

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