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Lincoln SATs lag behind NC, US

Charter school SAT scores through the roof

AMANDA SEBASTIANO
Staff Writer

Though the number of students who took the Standardized Assessment Test (SAT) increased from the 2010-2011 school year in Lincoln County and across the state, local public high school students performed — on average — slightly lower or about the same this time around.

Compared to the state, which also dropped slightly from the previous year’s score, the county trailed North Carolina as a whole by 25 points and the national average by 54.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Elaine Boysworth is staying positive about the county’s decreased performance results, though, mentioning there are positives amidst the overall dipped averages.

“We’re going to do some data analysis to see where the larger problem areas are,” Boysworth told the Times-News on Wednesday. “We’re hoping to get reports to see what aspects of critical reading can be improved, then we will set up and determine plans of action.”

Boysworth and Lincoln County Schools Superintendent Sherry Hoyle are both confident the implementation of the Common Core and Essential State Standards and all the rigor that each entails, will have “a huge impact on future SAT scores.” Overall, the county would like to reflect improvements in every area; there’s always room to improve, Boysworth added. Also remember that student learning is a K-12 effort, and preparing for college placement exams isn’t something that suddenly becomes important in high school; it starts the first day of Kindergarten, Hoyle noted in a press release.

Hoyle and her team will analyze the results and meet with local educators to figure out what went wrong and how to improve it this school year.

Of the 61 percent who took the SATs in the area, the overall average, that includes math, critical reading and (the more recent addition) the writing component, scored 1,444 out of the 2,400-point scale. Eight-hundred is the maximum amount of credit a student can earn in each of the three categories.

Lincoln County schools’ mean math score for the 2011-2012 school year is 508, compared to 513 that was earned the previous school year. Critical reading saw a slight boost and is up two points — 480 — while writing plateaued and remains at 456. Overall, area students’ average total score dropped three points.

More specifically, North and East Lincoln high schools were the top two of the four while Lincolnton and West Lincoln trailed behind. WLHS did improve its overall average, while NLHS dropped six points from its previous average.

Lincolnton High students scored lower, in comparison to the previous school year, on every portion of the assessment, including a 31-point decline in critical reading and a drop of 22 in writing — factors that contributed to the 1354 score the school earned in the results released this week.

The totals recently released were more positive for Lincoln Charter Schools, with an increase in every facet of the test. One-hundred percent of the eligible students who attended LCS took the SATs last school year — the only school in the county with a perfect-attendance rate and the only institution whose students’ average jumped 72 points to 1546.

The charter school bettered its math score about 34 points, surpassing all other county high schools in increased performance points.

Other factors State Superintendent June Atkinson is hoping will positively affect future scores of North Carolina high school students, are the amount of course work being done throughout the year leading up to the test and increasing the amount of youth who enroll in Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Though student average dropped six points statewide to 1469, Atkinson believes the increased number of math classes taken prior to the test will help next school year.

“When we look at what The College Board says, as far as predictions of how well students will do on SATs, they indicate that coursework matters,” Atkinson said. “So students who graduated this past year and took the test didn’t have to take four units of mathematics. Next year’s graduates will be the first class where students will have taken four units of math, not three.”

In comparison to two neighboring counties — Catawba and Gaston — Lincoln fell in between the two. Catawba County test-takers led Lincoln County students in every section, including its average of 1474, while Gaston dropped slightly in most areas and totaled 1429.

Highlights of the 2011-2012 SAT results:

North Lincoln High School scored above the state average in every section of the assessment, including total score. NLHS also exceeded the national average in math.

East Lincoln students earned higher scores than the state average in math, critical reading and overall score. ELHS’ participation rate also jumped 12.8 percent.

West Lincoln High’s scores improved in every tested area of the SATs.

Compared to the country’s averages, N.C. lagged behind in all categories, as it slipped a few points behind in each section. The only higher numbers the state saw last school year was in student participation. Total, more students in North Carolina took the test, but — on average — performed worse.

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