Standardized Tests Present Problems To Carroll Students

Lack Of Preparation Blamed For Lower Sats

May 29, 1991|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

Carroll's Scholastic Aptitude Test scores dropped last year because students were less prepared than previous classes.

That is among the conclusions reached by a committee of principals, guidance counselors and teachers who studied an overall 29-point drop in SAT scores of last year's high school graduates.

The average score among Carroll seniors on the verbal part of thetest fell 14 points to 425, and the average math score dropped by 15to 469.

Student performance on the multiple-choice test, which measures verbal and mathematical reasoning abilities, is measured on a scale of 200 to 800.

Educators said it is not uncommon to see fluctuations in results from year to year, but also said the unprecedented drop deserved serious study.

The committee also made several recommendations aimed at improving tests scores. They include enrolling test takers in higher-level English and math courses.

Brian L. Lockard, Carroll's assistant superintendent of instruction, said the committee's report will be given to the school board in June. The staff will make recommendations to the board in July.

"Instructional division directors and I will review the recommendations and make some modifications," Lockard said.

In its conclusions, the committee noted that the lower SAT verbal and math scores among 1990 seniors paralleled their lower results on the California Achievement Test, which also is multiple choice.

Lower SAT scores should have been expectedbecause of the drop in California Achievement Test results, the report stated.

Last fall, when the results were announced, educators speculated that the decline could have stemmed from academic differences among students, some who take less-rigorous courses than others.

"The lower SAT math scores . . . were due in part to less academic preparation in mathematics as demonstrated by the larger percentage of students who had either no academic math or only 'Algebra I,' " thereport noted.

The committee noted that students who took top courses in academic sequences of English and math received higher SAT scores.

"I agree with the conclusions they reached," Lockard said. "There's some real parallels between the California Achievement Test and the SAT. We could not blame it on less preparation if there were big differences."

The 1990 results marked the first time Carroll students fell below the state average. The state average was 908, down six points from 1989, but 14 points higher than Carroll's.

The testserves as both a measure of student academic success and college readiness.

The committee's recommendations include:

* Allow all students to take the test, even if they lower county or school scores.

* Students could improve SAT verbal scores by enrolling in "Composition III," "Survey of American Literature," "Expository Writing" and"British Literature."

* Students could improve SAT math scores bytaking "Algebra I," "Geometry" and "Algebra II."

* Each high school through its school improvement team should develop strategies to improve SAT scores.

* Brochures should be provided to students and parents as they develop their high school academic tracks to emphasize the importance of academic preparation on SAT scores and success incollege.

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