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Local SAT scores bounce up

Bucking the state and national trends, Cairo High School’s students’ scores on the SAT are higher this year than they were last year. They are also higher than most other public high schools nearby.
The 96 CHS juniors and seniors who took the test earned an average score of 1,389, an increase of 38 points over last year’s average.
Guidance Department head Julie York at CHS had predicted that once the school returned to a traditional seven period schedule from the former block schedule, test scores would improve since students would take subjects year round. Under the block schedule, some students fulfilled their math requirements in their junior year, and were not required to take math during their senior year when they were taking the SAT.  Cairo High returned to the seven-period format last year.
Whether the new schedule contributed to the gains or not, Cairo’s 1,389 score this year is higher than the averages of high schools in both Thomas and Decatur Counties. The average score at Thomasville High School was 1,352; Thomas County Central was 1342; and Bainbridge High School was 1,331.
Grady County School Superintendent Dr. Tommy Pharis agrees that a shift back to the seven period day likely played a part in the improvement in SAT scores, but he also points to an emphasis on SAT and ACT prep at Cairo High School.
“It all carries over. We felt students should have math and science year round. Our average scores have not been as good as we thought they should have been for the last couple of years. I’m glad the focus we’ve put on academic achievement looks like it is paying off,” the superintendent said.
Dr. Pharis also commented, “We went back to the seven period day because we thought it would help students instructionally. We’ve got good teachers at the high school who are focusing on teaching the curriculum. After all, the state standards correlate with SAT standards. I’m proud we showed an increase and I congratulate those students, teachers and parents.”
While Cairo’s scores were going up, the state and national scores were going down. Georgia’s public school students scored an average of 1,431 on the exam, a six point decrease from 2010, and the national average score was 1,483, also down six points. Cairo High School students lag just 42 points behind the state average, much closer than last year’s 91-point discrepancy.
The biggest gain at CHS was in critical reading where average scores improved by 17 points, up to 476 from 459 last year. The second largest jump was in mathematics where students scored an average of 12 points higher at 458, up from last year’s average of 446. The Cairo students raised the average writing score by nine points, from 446 in 2010 to 455 in 2011.
Cairo’s total average score is also higher than Albany High School; Americus High School; Brooks County High School; Crisp County High School; Dougherty Comprehensive High School; Early County High School; Miller County High School; Seminole County High School; Westover Comprehensive High School; and Worth County High School.
Area schools with average scores that are higher than CHS include Tift County High School, which had one point higher in math; Colquitt County High School, which had five points higher in math; Pelham High School, which scored 26 points higher in reading and 15 points higher in writing; and Baconton Community Charter School, which scored 25 points higher in reading, 28 points higher in math and 40 points higher in writing.
The SAT is a college entrance exam that is developed, administered and scored by the College Board. The SAT is designed to test the subject matter learned by students in high school and the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in college. The test has three sections – critical reading, mathematics and writing – each worth 800 points, for a highest possible score of 2,400.
The SAT will be given Saturday, Oct. 1 and May 5, 2012 at Cairo High School. For more information call the school at 229-377-2222.

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