Superintendent outlines district’s educational response

Last updated: September 30. 2013 8:50AM - 616 Views
Kevin Boozer Staff Writer

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WINNSBORO — Test results are in from the State Department of Education and show Fairfield County School District SAT scores declined by 20 points in 2013.

This comes as a higher number of graduating seniors took the test from FCHS 70 compared to 62 in 2012. Overall, scores showed a nine point decline in math, a nine point decline in critical reading and a three point decline in writing.

If one uses the national composite score as a benchmark, the score of 1498 was the average composite score, whereas Fairfield County’s was 1202.

Superintendent J.R. Green acknowledged that the district has work to do with its SAT and ACT scores. He said that historically Fairfield County has had some students who were not properly prepared to take the SAT/ACT.

“They have no idea of the structure, the number of items, how to pace themselves or whether or not they should guess,” he said.

One issue with the overall competency average composite score is a significant number of students Green said who had been unprepared, scored poorly once on the SAT and never took it again.

“I suspect in the future we will see better prepared students and they will be ready,” he said. “In the process it is likely that students who were not serious enough in their studies (with rigor and preparation) will choose not to take it.”

SAT preparation courses were added for students in 2012-13, but he said some found it difficult to schedule them.

“Our hope is that (a new) online tool with its mock tests will give them the opportunity to engage in some diagnostic work and be able to identify and work on areas of deficiency (prior to taking the SAT),” he said.

Green said they cannot mandate students do the computer sessions but that students must complete a certain number of hours in the tutorial to qualify for the SAT fee to be waived by the district.

The College Board, he said, recommends against comparing schools and states because the participation rates among a student population can skew results.

Green said that the top 10 states in SAT scores tested less than 10 percent of their graduating class but the state ranking last in SAT scores tested 100 percent of its senior class.

“There is a definite correlation. Ideally our goal should be to test the percentage of the student population that equals to the number of students we sent to a four year institution,” he said. “My focus, and our district’s focus is on preparing students to maximize their potential on these assessments. Our goal is not to restrict access to SAT taking nor to increase district scores overall, per se. Our goal is for our students who are preparing to attend a four year college to do better on these easements.”

As an administrator he plans to review the data and see who took the most challenging, rigorous courses. He wants to see how that subgroup did on the SAT and believes that data is a fair evaluation of the district at this time.

Statewide, the average SAT composite score for South Carolina graduating seniors was 1436, an increase of five points from 2012. The national average for all students held constant with a score of 1498. In South Carolina, the average critical reading score was 484, math was 487, and writing was 465; compared to the national average for all schools of 496, 514, and 488.

In the public school sector, seniors graduating in South Carolina scored a composite of 1423, up one point from 2012. The national average was 1474, down three points from 2012.

“Like the other college admission test ACT, the SAT is not a measure of school effectiveness. However, within the student population taking the SAT is another data point confirming a troubling trend: there is a wide reading gap between South Carolina and the nation,” said State Education Superintendent Mick Zais.

Critical reading was 479, math was 484, and writing was 460. The national averages were 491 for critical reading, 503 for math, and 480 for writing.

“Addressing the reading gap in elementary school must be our top priority because reading is fundamental to everything else in a student’s education. If students cannot read, they will not succeed in school,” said Zais. “To accomplish this goal, we must transform education from a one-size-fits-all system to one that delivers a personalized and customized education to each student.”

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