Monroe, Forest Hills scores down more than 6 percent, lowest in county
The 2011 Scholastic Assessment Test report had mostly good news for Union County schools and students. Not only did county schools average SAT scores surpass the state and national averages, but more students countywide took the SAT; a 25 percent increase over last year. Monroe High School posted the 54 percent increase in the number of students taking the college entrance exams – tops in the county.
However, not all the news is as good. The SAT results showed a decline in overall test scores for five of the nine county schools with two or more years of test data. Forest Hills and Monroe high schools showed the steepest decline since 2009, where scores were down 7 percent and 15 percent respectively.
“We’ve encouraged more students into taking the test and by nature your going to see some of the scores go down,” Board of Education Chair Dean Arp said, “but we have put leadership in place to make a difference.”
Monroe High School has a new principal this year, Rodney Miller, who in his previous position as principal at Central Academy saw an improved score this year, coming in third behind Marvin Ridge and Weddington high schools, who had the highest scores.
Forest Hills High School has a new principal as well. Dr. Kevin Plue was appointed this year, bringing his previous years of experience as assistant principal and principal in both elementary and middle schools.
Forest Hills saw a 7 percent decline in SAT scores over the last two years, less than half that of Monroe whose scores have decreased by 15 percent over the same period.
“We look at the scores in a number of ways, the SAT is another measure of performance,” Arp said. “We try to encourage more students to take the SAT. The schools make available a lot of resources to help students prepare for the SAT and ACT exams. (That) is left up to the individual schools, there is not [School] board policy on SAT prep per say.”
Arp said he felt it was important to have the schools push students, to encourage them and educate their parents in ways to prepare for college.
When asked how he would approach raising SAT scores, Monroe’s Principal Miller said he had several projects in place.
“First of all, were doing a program called Mod-English, actually in several different subject areas including math and science,” Miller said. “These classes will get them ready for the regular English 1, Algebra 1, and Biology 1 classes.”
That way students will have two semesters of prep, Miller said, with the second class taking place during the semester when testing occurs.
The SAT report published by UCPS noted that scores were likely skewed by including data through June of 2011; where historically the data only went through March of the testing year. Many students take the SAT for the first time late in the school year and often don’t do as well at the first attempt. The student’s last score is what is compiled into the average.
“We are sending a team to Little Rock, Arkansas to go to Professional Learning Communities training where we will implement a tutoring program that we will build into the school day.” Miller said. “We’re also going to more of an academy approach at Monroe High, so the kids have more hands-on learning.”
Miller said he felt these programs, combined with traditional SAT prep classes and practice tests would help improve student scores.
“We’re going to do some out-of-the-box kind of things that are Union County Public School initiatives like the PLC training,” Miller said. “SAT scores are just one of the things were trying to improve.”