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SAT scores down for local school systems
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Local school system mean scores

Gainesville City Schools

Critical reading: 453
Math: 461
Writing: 450
Composite score: 1364

Hall County Schools

Critical reading: 474
Math: 471
Writing: 454
Composite score: 1399

Local school systems took a hit on their SAT scores as performance remained flat statewide in 2013 compared to 2012.

Hall County students had an average of 1,399, compared to 1,438 from 2012, and Gainesville students scored 1,364 compared to 1,383 the year before.

Hall County saw a jump in student participation of 920 students, up from 891 in 2012.

“The good news is that our composite scores still place us in the top one-third of systems in Georgia,” said Terry Sapp, high schools school improvement specialist with Hall County.

Sapp said that, looking at data trends, she first saw a decline in test scores when the economy took a downturn.

“If I look back into those years, I know that Georgia suspended funding for all of the online SAT prep courses and support materials,” she added. “Parallel that with our local economy saw the same challenges, and some of the funding that we had in place to support local SAT improvement also was withdrawn.”

Gainesville Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said the city system’s goal is for a district average of 1,400.

“Students in college preparatory and Advanced Placement already score significantly higher than 1,400,” Dyer said.

She added the system also encourages all students, regardless of English proficiency, to take the exam. The school system offers SAT preparatory courses, as well as holding students accountable for completing college preparatory coursework before taking the exam.

Sapp said the Hall system created an online preparatory program last year, with around 60 students participating.

“Now that we’ve seen some data, what are we going to do to address the decreases?” she said. “I have several ideas on paper, but we’ve got to sit down and find out what the feasibility is of implementing them (when) the school year’s already started.

“Again, we’ve got to seek out some ways to provide access to all students, and that’s always a challenge,” Sapp added.

It’s possible to achieve 2,400 points on the SAT. The test is broken out into three sections of critical reading, mathematics and writing, with each section worth 800 points.

Georgia’s average composite score was 1,452, the same as 2012 and just under the 2013 national average of 1,498. This year’s SAT benchmark score was 1,550, set by the College Board, which administers the SAT. The state reported that 36 percent of Georgia students met that benchmark. Only 43 percent met that benchmark nationally.

In the state, there were 72,119 total SAT takers in 2013. According to the state’s news release, Georgia had the ninth-highest test participation rate in the country.

“States with higher participation rates typically see lower average scores on the test and often see dips when the number of students taking the exam increases,” the release reported.

More minority students took the SAT in 2013, with 46 percent minority students taking the test in Georgia. African-American, American Indian and Hispanic students made up 37 percent of minorities.

The SAT is a college entrance exam used in the admission process of nearly all four-year colleges and universities in the United States.

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