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More students taking SAT, but scores slip a bit

By Staff | Sep 16, 2011

Although more students in the Lee County School District took the Scholastic Assessment Test last year, their results declined from the previous year.

A total of 38 percent of seniors took the SAT test during the 2010-2011 year, which amounts to 2,388 students. In 2009, 2,209 students took the SAT and 1,995 seniors took the exam in 2008.

The average critical reading score of 489 was earned by seniors during 2010-2011, compared to 494 the previous year. In 2008, seniors scored 485 on their critical reading portion of the SAT exam.

The critical reading score for Florida was 487, and 497 for the nation during 2010-2011. The average score remained flat in 2008 and 2009 at 495 in Florida and increased from 499 in 2008 to 500 in 2009 for the nation.

A decline in math scores was also seen in the district with a score of 484, compared to 488 the year before. In 2008 the seniors in the district scored 481.

Florida scored 489 for 2010-2011 and the nation scored 514 for math. The score remained the same in math for Florida at 496 during 2008 and 2009 and increased from 514 in 2008 to 515 in 2009 for the nation.

The SAT writing portion of the exam also decreased in the district with a score of 471 compared to 475 last year. A score of 466 was earned by seniors in 2008-2009.

The writing score for Florida was also 471 and the nation was 489 during 2010-2011. Again the score remained the same for Florida at 478 in 2008 and 2009 for writing. The score for the nation in writing went from 492 in 2008 to 491 in 2009.

“We’ve been working hard to get students achieving at high levels,” Superintendent Dr. Joseph Burke said in a prepared statement. “We’re looking at the positive side that our district scores are beginning to exceed state averages, but we know there’s still more work to be done and our teachers and students have already begun that work.”

The scholastic exam is used by colleges and universities as one of their measures in predicting a student’s academic success, along with the use of admission decisions.

The test can also be used for students who did not pass the FCAT to qualify for graduation.

Cape Coral High School Assistant Principal for Curriculum Maura Bennington said the International Baccalaureate program and Advanced Placement courses help their students with their critical thinking, reading and writing skills.

In addition, Cape High students had the option of taking reading, writing and math for college readiness classes last year, which is being offered again this year.

Bennington said the math for college readiness class attracted between 75 to 100 students and the reading and writing class had approximately 15 students in each. She hopes the semester-long classes will attract more students this year.

She said the classes provided teachers with the opportunity to teach those students who are possibly sitting on the fence of being eligible for college.

Bennington said another program that is fairly new to the state is being offered this year for students. She said instead of offering reading and writing, now they offer an English 4 college prep course, which is reading and writing intensive.

“It is based on reading and writing development skills, so they are really ready for college,” she said. “Those students are being better prepared and feel more confident.”

All of the courses that are being offered at Cape Coral High School, Bennington said, will help them become college bound.

“Our teachers are are so good and they do care about the students they have,” she said. “They want them to be successful, they really do have a lot of heart and want all of their students to succeed.”

Last year, 43 percent, or a little less than 200 seniors, at Cape Coral High School took the SAT exam.

Bennington said they also strongly encourage their juniors to take the SAT test in January because students can take the test as many times as they wish. She said that colleges look at the students highest SAT score.

The option to take the test more than once, Bennington said, takes pressure off of the students because if they know they did not perform well they can take it again.

“You get a chance to improve,” she said.

Students have the option of taking the test as much as once a month if they desire. It costs $40 to take the test.

“As much as you can afford the fee, you can take it as often as you want,” she said.

Fee waivers are available for students who are on the free and reduced lunch program. Bennington said the fee waiver helps students not worry about paying the cost associated with the exam to help them get into college.

Mariner High Principal Brian Mangan said the latest and greatest thing to help prepare students with taking the SAT went live at their school Thursday.

After he viewed some of the information, did some research, along with a little test to see if it works, the administrators at Mariner decided it would be a good tool for their students.

The name of the preparation course, BLine Test Prep, is a free online SAT prep course for students at Mariner High School.

Some of the things that the online prep course offers students includes eight full-length timed practice tests, instant feedback, animated and narrated feedback, a review section, more than 1,200 vocabulary words and a library that offers test taking strategies.

“We are going school wide with it right now,” Mangan said about the online course.

He said the nice thing about the online course is that it does not cost the students any money. In addition, he said the test does not release any personal information about the student and it tracks how many students have registered because they have to identify what high school they attend.

In addition to college readiness and upper level classes to help students prepare for the exam, Mangan said they also offer the students tutoring after school to prepare them for the SAT.

Last year 142 Mariner High School seniors and 49 juniors took the SAT test.

Mangan said he had freshman and sophomore students preparing for the SAT exam by taking the PSAT, which he said is a nice precursor in determining placement in upper level courses, as well as giving them an idea of what they scored on the test.