The overall performance on 2003-2004 SATs (Scholastic Aptitude Tests) by Lincoln County high school seniors was a rather mild improvement â€” five points over last year. The test, used by many colleges to determine entrance eligibility, was applauded by school officials as positive, following a â€œsteadyâ€ upward trend over the last few years. But when compared to statewide averages, Lincoln schools are still 20 points behind.
The real shocker from the SAT score comparisons was the performance of West Lincoln High School, which has a history of trailing the other high schools in the county in academic performance. This time West Lincoln advanced some 42 points and came out as Lincoln Countyâ€™s top performer on SAT scores. In fact, that leap in test scores made the school a top regional performer. That is a major accomplishment that caught many people by surprise. Lincolnton High saw a healthy rise of 19 points. East Lincoln, usually a high performer, saw an 18 point drop. That was a disappointment but could reflect the impact of enrollment changes resulting from the advent of the new North Lincoln High School. West outperformed ELHS in math and verbal scores. But it should be pointed out that East tested a higher percentage of its students, 65 percent, compared to Westâ€™s 42 percent. Lincolnton tested 49 percent of its students. (The new North Lincoln High did not have a senior class to test.) One of the flaws in comparing SAT scores is that different schools often test far different numbers of students.
While the scores look good when compared to past years, they have to be put in a statewide perspective for a valid comparison. Thatâ€™s when we see our studentsâ€™ performance has a long way to go. Lincoln Countyâ€™s average SAT score of 986 is well behind the state average of 1,006.
Next year the SATs will be more complicated with the introduction of a written essay as part of the test. This adds a subjective measure that makes comparison even more complicated.
The real success in this years SAT reports has to be the performance of West Lincoln High students and their teachers. We congratulate the recently departed principal, Debra Morris, who was at the helm when these tests were taken.
The challenge ahead for Lincoln County schools is formidable if we truly want academic excellence. We must not only reach the state average, as West Lincoln High School did this year, we must pass it. Instead of steady improvement, we want rapid improvement.