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State SAT scores up; local schools below average
Ga. participation rate rises to 81 percent
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The state’s average SAT scores, according to the most recent numbers released by the Department of Education, have increased seven points from last year’s senior class, while national averages have dropped.

The number of students taking the test statewide is also up from last year, now at a participation rate of 81 percent, compared to a national average of only 31 percent.

Georgia, officials said, has the seventh-highest participation rate in the nation.

And while the state’s numbers are on the rise, local schools are slightly behind the state average.

According to the education department, the state average SAT score was 1,452 out of a possible 2,400. Hall County Schools averaged 1,438, while the class of 2012 from Gainesville City Schools averaged a 1,383.

“The part I’m most excited about is that we increased from 177 test takers to 211 and so normally people say when you have that many more test takers, your numbers go down,” said Jamey Moore, director of curriculum and instruction for Gainesville City Schools. “But to have 34 more test takers and still see a 25-point increase shows that teachers are addressing critical reading, writing and math in our schools at high levels.”

Hall County had 65 more test takers.

Last year, the city school system’s average score was 1,358. Hall County’s average was 1,442.

For the class of 2012, the national average was 1,498.

“We take the numbers seriously and we work with principals to hopefully get more attention on preparing for the SAT,” said Eloise Barron, Hall County assistant superintendent for teaching and learning.

“The main thing is for us to stress (that students) take the college preparatory courses. If they take the right coursework, then they will perform better on the test.”

In fact, the state reported that students who took all of the classes associated with the core curriculum scored 119 points better, on average, than students who didn’t.

But along with a rise in the state’s scores was a shrinking in the scoring gap between the state’s black students and white students. This year, the gap was 270 points, down from 272 last year. The national average is 305 points.

And both the black and the Hispanic subgroups outperformed their national counterparts, state education officials said.

“We are far outpacing the national rate of closing that achievement gap,” Georgia Superintendent John Barge said. “We’re doing a much better job with our minority students in closing that achievement gap. We’re not where we want to be, but we are moving rapidly in the right direction.”

Georgia’s black students scored higher than those nationwide on two of the three parts of the test — three points higher on critical reading and two points higher on writing. The state’s Hispanic students outscored their counterparts in the rest of the country on all three sections, beating them by 22 points on the critical reading section, 11 points on math and 14 points on writing.

The SAT is developed, administered and scored by the College Board. The SAT is designed to test the subject matter learned by students in high school and the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in college. The test has three sections — critical reading, mathematics and writing — each worth 800 points.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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