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Bulloch, Georgia SAT scores mostly higher
But they still trail national averages for 2012 graduates
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Graduates of the class of 2012 in Bulloch County and Georgia generally posted higher scores than their peers a year earlier on the SAT, while the national mean score dropped, according to results made available Monday.
Bulloch County's mean SAT score for 2012 graduates was 1404, compared to 1386 for the class of 2011. That trailed Georgia's scores of 1452 in 2012 and 1445 in 2011, and the national mean scores of 1498 in 2012 and 1500 in 2011.
The SAT is a college-entrance exam that is scored on a 2400-point scale. It tests students' mastery of critical reading, math and writing, each of which are scored on an 800-point scale.
Bulloch County Schools Superintendent Charles Wilson said that, on first blush, he is pleased to see that the district posted its first gain in the mean SAT score in the past three years, as well as increases - particularly in math - that Portal and Southeast Bulloch high schools saw in 2012.
"We have to look at how we're performing not only compared with the state, but also ourselves by school and district," he said. "That's what we'll be focusing on as we go forward. We'll be looking at the trends, the patterns and understanding the cause and effect as to why these changes are happening. Understanding why is just as important, if not more important, than what happened."
In Georgia, the SAT is the predominant college entrance exam taken by high school students, but the ACT continues to gain ground. In Bulloch County, more students take the ACT. Nationally, the number of graduates taking the ACT passed the number taking the SAT for the first time with the 2012 class.
Statewide, 81 percent of 2012 graduating seniors, or 73,187, took the SAT. That is about 1,000 more than took the exam in the class of 2011. The Bulloch County school system saw a slight decrease: Eight fewer graduates, or 253, in the class of 2012 took the SAT compared to 2011.
"I'm extremely pleased that SAT scores increased so much this year," State School Superintendent John Barge said in a news release. "We jumped ahead of several states in our overall score, even as we saw our participation rate continue to increase."
School-level scores show more variation. Southeast Bulloch High School had the district's highest average composite score, 1475, for its 2012 graduates, up 31 points from the class of 2011. Statesboro High School's was 1380, down seven points from 2011, and Portal Middle High School posted a 1284 composite score, up 57 points.
Bulloch Academy is the county's only private school that had enough graduates take the SAT for measurable results. The academy's scores were the highest of any school in Bulloch County, with a mean score of 1556, but that was a 46-point drop from the class of 2011. The academy has a much smaller number of test takers than Statesboro and Southeast Bulloch high schools, however, and is comparable to Portal High School. Smaller groups tend to have larger year-to-year fluctuations in test scores.
"Traditionally, the Scholastic Aptitude Test has been the assessment of choice for colleges and universities in determining the admissions standards for college-bound seniors," Bulloch Academy Head of School Leisa Houghton said. "While the trends now are moving more toward using the ACT as an admissions tool for colleges, universities and students alike, the SAT remains a very important part of a student's testing experience. We are extremely pleased with the SAT and ACT averages of our graduates. It shows that Bulloch Academy is indeed challenging, teaching and nurturing tomorrow's leaders today."
The two-point drop nationally appears to be a function of grammar skills. The writing score fell by a point to 488, and the critical reading score dropped by a point to 496. Math held steady at 514.
The College Board, the not-for-profit organization that owns the exam, struck a negative tone in a news release accompanying the information. It noted that only 43 percent of 2012 graduates who took the SAT actually met the benchmarks indicating they were ready for college-level work.
"This report should serve as a call to action to expand access to rigor for more students," College Board President Gaston Caperton said. "Our nation's future depends on the strength of our education system. When less than half of kids who want to go to college are prepared to do so, that system is failing. We must make education a national priority and deliver rigor to more students."



2011-12 SAT scores
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