Overall, Bulloch County public school students who graduated in 2014 posted slightly higher scores on the SAT college-entrance exam than their counterparts in the Class of 2013, bucking state and national trends.
"We are becoming more focused as a school system," said Bulloch County Schools Superintendent Charles Wilson in a news release issued this week. "We are providing professional development for our faculty and administrators, guiding them to work in professional learning communities, and then empowering and encouraging those teams to plan and make innovative, strategic decisions to challenge our students and meet their learning needs.
"We are also providing useful technology tools to equip our faculty with the data they need to more quickly identify issues and find solutions," he continued. "Each of these pieces will help us to continue to move forward, better serve students, affect student achievement and better prepare each child for post-secondary pursuits and careers."
Bulloch County's 2014 graduates overall scored higher in all three components of the test, critical reading, math and writing, compared to scores posted by members of the Class of 2013. The school district's mean scores in these areas resulted in a total score average of 1419, a 2-point increase over 2013 scores, but still significantly below the state and national averages of 1445 and 1497.
Of the school district's 534-member graduating class for 2014, 50 percent (269 students) took the SAT.
Each of the district's three public high schools saw varying results.
Portal Middle High's mean scores were lower in all three content areas. The school had 28 students take the test, up eight from 2013, and their mean scores resulted in an average score of 1334, a 24-point drop from last year. Even with the decrease this year, Portal's scores have been steadily increasing. Last year's scores were the highest in more than seven years, and when looking at five-year trends, student scores have increased 15 points in critical reading, 12 points in math and 40 points in writing, according to a school system analysis of SAT data.
Statesboro High's mean scores were higher in critical reading and math, but dropped slightly in writing from 463 in 2013 to 457 this year. The students total score average; however, rose from 1405 to 1421, and students posted the district's highest math mean score of 486, which was just above the state's score of 485. SHS also had the largest increase in test takers of the district's three high schools, with 41 additional students.
Southeast Bulloch High students scored higher in critical reading and math, but scored slightly lower (4 points) in writing. The students' critical reading mean score of 492 was higher than the state's by 4 points (488) and only 5 points lower than the national mean score. SEB students' total mean scores resulted in an overall average score of 1436, which was 18 points lower than 2013 graduates. SEB posted the district's highest critical reading and writing scores as well.
Charter Conservatory, a public school in Statesboro that is not part of the Bulloch County school system, saw its Class of 2014 test takers score significantly higher results than did 2013 graduates. The 2014 graduates posted mean scores of 493 in critical reading, 461 in math and 470 in writing for a composite score of 1424 - 95 points higher than the 2013 class.
Bulloch Academy, a private school in Statesboro, continued to lead the way locally, though its scores fell significantly among 2014 graduates. These students posted mean scores of 500 in critical reading, 530 in math and 507 in writing, for a 1537 composite score - 56 points lower than 2013 graduates.
The SAT is a college-entrance exam administered nationally by College Board, a not-for-profit organization formed by colleges and universities in 1900 to help students be successful in their postsecondary academic pursuits. The SAT and ACT are the two most widely accepted exams of this type in the United States. The SAT is made up of three components, critical reading, math and writing, each with a possible 800-point score that makes up the test's 2400-point scale.
Georgia's mean composite SAT score fell to 1445 for the Class of 2014, 7 points lower than that posted by 2013 graduates. State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge noted that while the state always wants to see more students take college-entrance exams, higher numbers of test takers can result in lower mean scores.
"Do we want to see scores go up every year? Absolutely," Barge said in a statement released Tuesday. "However, we know that as more Georgia students take the SAT, we will sometimes see slight decreases. The measures are in place to better prepare students for college and 21st-century careers and, by extension, the SAT. The gains in scores will come."
Nationally, the mean composite score dropped a point to 1497 for the Class of 2014, after being 1498 for the previous two graduating classes. The College Board said this means students need to be better prepared to transition to life after high school.
"The latest SAT results reaffirm that we must address the issue of preparedness much earlier and in a more focused way," said Cyndie Schmeiser, the chief of assessment at the College Board. "Students in the Class of 2014 missed opportunities that could have helped more of them to make successful transitions to college and career. The College Board is working toward solutions that will advance readiness and success for [BEGIN ITAL]all[END ITAL] students."