2010 SAT Scores 
September 14, 2010 
 
Ditto: 
For the most part, the SAT scores have the same story line as the ACT (scroll down for those results). The total score, which includes English, Math and the new section of Writing, was up from 1525 to 1547. (English and Math was up from 1033 to 1044.) 
 
That's an impressive gain on average.  The district was #3 in the state.  
 
It is a college entrance exam, so only 46% of graduates took the test. That's down from a peak of 56% in 2004 when the average English and Math score was 1026. Some of the gain the past few years is likely due to the smaller pool of students taking the exam (see below where I explained that). The ACT is becoming more popular, so SAT participation is dropping over time.  
 
At Daniel 63% of graduates took the SAT and at Liberty only 33% took it. More students at Daniel took the test than even at the bigger high schools in Easley and Pickens.  
 
The 2010 gains were driven by Daniel High which was up an amazing 63 pts to a total score of 1661. (English and Math score was 1126.) 
 
Liberty's total score was up 3 points to 1460 (991 English and Math), Easley was down 4 points to 1518 (1020) and Pickens was down 16 to 1463 (986).  
 
What does all this mean? It is a college entrance exam, and a limited and shewed sample of our high school students. Limited in the sense that less than half the graduates take the test. It is shewed in the sense that Daniel has the most participation and Daniel hit the cover off the ball.  
 
Like I've said over and over, the High School Exit Exam gives the best measure of performance at the high school level because it is taken by all students. 
 
The SAT and ACT provide excellent insight into how well our brightest students are performing. Clearly, they are doing better and they are some of the brightest students in the state.   
 
2010 ACT Scores 
By Alex Saitta 
September 6, 2010 
 
Very Good: 
The school district scored 22.9 on the ACT in 2010. Thatís up from last year, and the second year in a row the district was #1 in the state. These are very good results. 
 
Let me repeat that. These are very good results and the reason why I made this statement in the first paragraph. The district was #1 in the ACT in 2004 and 2003, so it is nice to have that #1 slot back again.  
 
District Press Release: 
As typical with the district's communication effort, the entire story was not told. As usual the district left out some telling information in the press release, and added some information too, that it seems to have left out the last few times it reported the SAT results.  
 
Click here for the district's press release. 
 
1) The ACT is taken by about 30% (or 315) of the graduating seniors. These are the brightest students who are headed to college. It confirms what most of the other test results have been showing for years -- our brightest students are some of the brightest in the state.  
 
2) Most of the students who scored so high on the ACT go to Daniel High School. The 87 Daniel students who took the test did extremely well, with an average of 25.0 on the ACT. Those students truly hit the cover off of the ball. When you look at the average results of the students in Easley, Pickens and Liberty Highs, they scored below the district average of 22.9. Easley scored 22.7, Pickens 21.8 and Liberty only 20.7. Easley and even the Pickens scores are still good, but the stellar performance is mostly coming from the Daniel area.  
 
The district's brightest students (about the top 30%) are doing very well, and they have been for years. The bottom 50% to 70%, which do not take the ACT or the SAT, are falling in terms of academic performance.  
 
High School Data That Tells The Whole Story: 
School administrators and school board trustees are hired to educate all the students, not just the brightest ones. Given the bottom 50% to 70% are doing worse, the district and the majority of the board doesnít like to focus on measures that consider all the students or accept what those measures are telling them.  
Graduation rates are trending down. In 2006 or four years ago on the 45th day of school there were 1,557 9th graders. This past year, on the 45th day there were 1,070 12th graders. Of those, only 315 took the ACT.  
There is reason to bang the drum about the top 300, but to take that a step further and say this success is across the board to all 1,500 would be incorrect. What about the other 1,200? What happened to so many of the students that started 9th grade four years ago but didnít make it to 12th grade on time? Many got left back. Some dropped out. A few may have left the district, but given enrollment has only slightly fallen, likely only a handful of 9th through 12th graders moved out of the district on balance.    
Besides the graduation rate, the High School Exit Exam also looks at all high school students. The percentage of students passing both parts on the first attempt has fallen: Last year that percentage was 79.6%. That is the lowest reading since 2004.  
 
Press Release:  
I want to highlight one note made in the press release, ďACT officials said a growth in student participation is usually accompanied by a downturn in scores. The downturn did not happen in SDPC where 70 more students took the exam.Ē  
Thatís a true and a positive sign. As more take the exam, usually that translates to a lower average score because students with lower academics skills enter the test pool. The fact scores went up even with more taking the exam points to true gains on the test by the top section of students.     
Let me give you an example. Letís say 3 students take the college entrance exam, and they score the following.  
Student A = 100% 
Student B = 90% 
Student C = 80%.   
The districtís average score will be 90%. These students are certainly going to college, are the brightest and will take the college entrance exam no matter what.   
Letís say Student D just read the local plant has been shut down and his post graduation choices are go to college or join the army. Heíll take the college entrance exam, and likely scoreÖ 
Student D = 70%.  
Adding that student to the pool lowers the district score to 85%. No one performed any better or worse on the exam. The only thing changed was another test taker was added.   
Now my point about the press release. Less students have been taking the SAT for years now and SAT scores went up. In 2006 the average SAT was 1023 and it was taken by 50% of Pickens County High School students. This past year the average score was 1033 and it was taken by 45% of the students.  
Likely some of the less skilled students dropped out of the test pool. The sliming of the test pool (not better test performance) is probably the reason for the increase in the average SAT score the past four years. Did the district mention that phenomenon when it released the press release touting the rising SAT scores? Of course not.  
 
Whatís The Root Cause?: 
I donít think the decline we are seeing in the bottom half to two-thirds of students has to do with curriculum or the technology. It is not like the students in the Daniel area have better pro-boards than students in Liberty. Or the Daniel area has better textbooks than those in Pickens. Nor do I think it has to do with teacher performance.  
Rather, the likely decline has to do to negative social trends that are weighing more and more on students in the bottom section of the student population. Generally, the negative messages the media is hammering children with, the gadgets (e.g., IPods, website pages, cell phones) targeted at our middle and high schoolers that are diverting their attention from their studies and the continued break down of the family are the main culprits. Also, with tighter budgets (rising class sizes, less reading programs, fewer early education programs, etc.), I think this problem will be amplified because the district will have less resources to combat those negative social trends. 
 
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