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SAT scores continue to decline here

Cairo High School’s average SAT scores have dropped for the third straight year, but school officials say they are hopeful that a greater emphasis on math and a change away from block scheduling will reverse the trend.
“Had we not had the decline in math, then we would have shown an increase, and math is a concern across the county. We’re putting a lot of emphasis and focus on math,” contends Julie York, head of Cairo High School’s guidance department.
The SAT scores were released Monday, and showed Cairo’s average score in math was 446, 19 points lower than last year’s 465, and 44 points below this year’s state average of 490. A perfect score in math, or any section of the SAT, is 800.
York says she expects returning to a traditional seven period day will have a positive impact on student testing and learning. Under the block format, some students completed math requirements during their junior year and did not take any math classes during their senior year when they were taking the SAT. “Inconsistency of instruction every single day shows up somewhere. Math is one of those things you have to do over and over to keep the concepts fresh in your mind,” York explains.
Also, a new math curriculum in its third year at CHS may begin to show its strength in testing next year. Juniors at the high school are the first class to enter CHS under the new curriculum, Mrs. York points out.
Cairo’s students taking the SAT this year did improve in their average reading and writing scores by 11 points, though not enough to make up for the loss in average math scores. In reading, CHS rose four points to an average score of 459; and went up seven points in writing to 446. There were 100 students who took the SAT, down one from last year, but up 23 from 2008.
The total average SAT score for CHS was 1,351, down eight points from last year and 47 points from 2008. The average state score for 2010 was seven points lower than 2009 at 1,453, but still 91 points higher than CHS’s average. Students all over the state were below the national average of 1,509.
The majority of students scored in the middle ranges in all three sections, with four students scoring between 600-690 each in reading, math and writing; in the 500-590 range, 26 scored that in reading, 30 in math, and 21 in writing; in the 400-490 range, 39 scored there in reading, 49 in math, and 40 in writing; and in the 300-390 range, 25 students scored there in reading, 23 in math, and 27 in writing. There were no students who scored in the 700-800 range, according to Mrs. York.
Compared to area schools, CHS had a higher average than Brooks County High School, Mitchell County High School, Monroe High School (Albany), Thomas County Central High School and Worth County High School. Schools with higher average SATs were Bainbridge High School, Lee County High School, Pelham High School, Seminole County High School, Thomasville High School and Westover High School.
The SAT is offered to all Cairo High School students, and a mock SAT is scheduled on Nov. 13 for those CHS students who want to practice. Sponsored by the National Honor Society, advisors from Sylvan Learning Center will provide feedback on the mock test results for each student and also offer further assistance.

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