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SAT scores here continue to show improvement

The Scholastic Aptitude Test scores of Cairo High School’s 2012 senior class increased 42 points, according to the College Board’s 2012 SAT report, while Georgia’s average score increased by only seven points and the nation’s scores decreased two points.
Cairo High School’s students’ average score was 1,393 on the SAT, compared to 1,351 the year before. There were 107 students at the high school who took the test, up seven from 2011. In critical reading, this year’s students scored an average of 474, compared to 459 last year, up 15. In math, Cairo High School students scored 455, up nine points from last year’s 446, and in writing, the score was 464, up 18 points from 446 in 2011.
Cairo High School Principal David McCurry praises students and teachers for the improved scores.
“Though there is always room for improvement, we are very proud of these numbers. Our students are to be commended for their efforts in classroom. Our teachers prepare rigorous lessons and are constantly raising the bar for students. I am extremely proud for them as well. Our community has high expectations for this high school and we will continue to strive to meet those expectations,” Principal McCurry said.
Compared to area schools, Cairo High School’s scores are competitive or higher. Thomasville High School students scored an average just seven points higher than CHS students at 1,400, and Pelham High School’s average at 1,419 is 26 points higher than the CHS average.
Area schools with averages lower than Cairo High School’s include Albany’s Westover Comprehensive High School; Thomas County Central High School; Worth County High School; Bainbridge High School; Mitchell County High School; Valdosta High School; Miller County High School; Tift County High School; Early County High School; and Seminole County Middle/High School.
“I am proud of the students and faculty and staff who work hard there (at Cairo High School),” says Dr. Tommy Pharis, superintendent of Grady County Schools, “we provide a good, solid curriculum, and we do additional work with kids who want specific SAT practice, and we’re going to keep working every year.”
The school’s scores will need to jump another 59 points to reach the state average, which was 1,452. The national average was 1,498, 105 points higher than Cairo High School.
According to the State Department of Education, increases were seen in Georgia even as the rate of students taking the test increased by one percentage point to 81 percent, compared to the national average test-taking rate of only 31 percent. Georgia has the seventh highest participation rate in the nation. States with higher participation rates typically see lower average scores on the SAT and often see dips when the number of students taking the exam increases.
This year Georgia also saw the largest and most diverse group of graduating seniors in state history. Of the state’s 2012 college-bound seniors who took the SAT, 47 percent were minority students, up from 46 percent in 2011 and 39 percent in 2007.
“I’m extremely pleased that SAT scores increased so much this year,” said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “We jumped ahead of several states in our overall score, even as we saw our participation rate continue to increase.”
Minority students in Georgia’s schools continue to outperform their peers across the country on the SAT. The 2012 SAT report shows that Georgia’s African-American students outscored their counterparts nationwide on two of the three SAT subsections. Mean critical reading scores for Georgia’s African-American students are three points higher, and mean writing scores are two points higher than those of African-American students nationwide.
Hispanic students in Georgia’s schools outperformed their counterparts nationwide on all three of the SAT subsections. Mean critical reading scores for Georgia’s Hispanic students are 22 points higher, mean mathematics scores are 11 points higher, and mean writing scores are 14 points higher than Hispanic students nationwide.
The difference between the scores of African-American and white students – called “the achievement gap” – is 270 points in Georgia, which is 35 points smaller than the achievement gap nationwide of 305. The gap between the scores of Hispanic and white students in Georgia is 148 points, 78 points lower than the nation (226).
Completing a core curriculum and pursuing rigorous course work are two critical components of college readiness, and the students who do so tend to perform better on the SAT. Georgia students who completed a core curriculum — defined as four or more years of English, three or more years of mathematics, three or more years of natural science and three or more years of social science and history — did better on the SAT than those who did not complete those classes.
State education officials contend the new Common Core Georgia Performance Standards builds on the success that has been achieved using other rigorous curricula, such as the Advanced Placement (AP) Program. Studies continue to show that students who score at least a 3 on an AP Exam in high school experience greater academic success in college and graduate from college at higher rates than their comparable, non-AP peers.
Among the SAT takers in Georgia’s class of 2012 who responded to optional questions about their college plans: 32 percent indicated plans to attain a bachelor’s degree; 52 percent indicated plans to attain a more advanced (master’s or doctoral) degree; 77 percent indicated that they planned to apply for financial aid.
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 2400.

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