Cartersville beats state, national scores on SAT; Bartow falls just below

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The SAT scores for Cartersville’s Class of 2018 were significantly higher than the state and nation while the scores for Bartow County’s recent graduating class fell just short of both averages.

According to figures for public school systems released Oct. 25 by the Georgia Department of Education, Cartersville High’s 132 test takers earned a mean total score of 1087 — 554 on the evidenced-based reading and writing section and 533 on the math section. Bartow High's 371 test takers received a mean total score of 1046 — 541 in ERW and 505 in math.

Cartersville’s score was only three points higher than its 2017 score, which was a new baseline score for year-to-year comparisons set after the college admission exam was revamped last year. However, it was 33 points higher than the state average of 1054 and 38 points higher than the national average of 1049.

“Our focus is to continue to provide educational opportunities that prepare our students to be college- and career-ready upon leaving high school,” CHS Principal Shelley Tierce said. “We are very pleased they are finding success in pursuing the next phase of their educational career.” 

Tierce said the high school “did show a slight increase” in its overall average score compared to the 2017 scores.

“Our evidence-based reading and writing scores remained the same with an average score of 554, and our math score improved by three points from an average score of 530 to 533,” she said. “All three scores reported by the Georgia Department of Education were above both state and national averages. The average math scores for the state itself were below the national average, but Cartersville High School remained above the national average.”

Bartow County’s overall score increased by one point over the 2017 score but fell below the state average by eight points and the national average by three points.

Two of the three high schools made large gains in their scores last year.

Adairsville’s 99 students taking the test made an 18-point leap — the largest increase in the county — to bring its score from 1015 in 2017 to 1033 in 2018, with a 529 in ERW and 504 in math. This year’s score was below the state and national averages. 

“We feel that the students who took the SAT last year, as a group, were probably better prepared than previous groups of students,” AHS Principal Bruce Mulkey said. “We believe that, as a group, these students took more honors and Advanced Placement courses. We also believe that we've been able to help students identify which exam — the SAT or the ACT — is best aligned with their skill set.”

Mulkey said school officials also think students “took advantage of more tutoring opportunities outside of school,” like the SAT skills class that Campus Dean Leslie Johnson and former Dean of Natural Sciences and PE Dr. Greg Ford from Georgia Highlands College helped implement on the AHS campus last spring.

But while school officials are “proud of the gains, we definitely see room for improvement,” Mulkey said.

“We're offering a test prep class for the first time in almost 10 years, and we're really excited about some things that [Superintendent Dr. Phillip] Page is in the process of implementing to strengthen our Advanced Placement programs at all three high schools,” he said. “We're confident that these changes will help us take significant steps toward the improvement and progress we're looking for.”

Cass, which had 137 students take the exam, scored 1050 — 547 in ERW and 503 in math — in 2018, up 10 points from 1040 last year. This year’s score was below the state average but above the national average.

Woodland’s dramatic 17-point drop in its mean score this year put it below the state average but above the national average. The 135 test takers scored 1051 — 545 in ERW and 506 in math — in 2018, down from 1068 last year.

“We are excited to see that our score was above the national average; however, it was below the state average, and it was a decrease from last year,” WHS Principal Dr. Wes Dickey said. “We are offering an SAT prep class as an elective course this year. We may also offer SAT prep sessions through our media center in order to give our students more opportunity for success on the exam.”

Page was happy with the improvements that were made over last year’s scores, but there’s more work to be done.

“While it was encouraging to see higher SAT scores at two out of our three high schools this year, we are now focused on increasing numbers across the board,” he said. “Our school district is doing that by offering more SAT prep opportunities than ever before.”

On Jan. 24, the school system will be offering the PSAT for free to all interested eighth graders.  

"The standardized assessment specifically designed for younger students will establish a baseline measurement of college and career readiness as students enter high school," Page said. "Student scores will be available in the spring, and the results will be shared with parents. We believe by taking advantage of this opportunity, along with digital resources available through counselors, our students will earn higher SAT scores. Data will help strengthen their educational plans and allow educators and families to create tailored enrichment activities to build on our students’ many successes."

Statewide, Georgia's public school students earned a total mean score of 1054 — 537 in ERW and 517 in math — and besides raising their score 14 points over the 2017 score of 1040, they also beat the national mean of 1049.

“We are seeing historic improvements in our education outcomes here in Georgia,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said in a press release. “On the SAT, which was once used to label Georgia as ‘last in the nation’ in education, Georgia’s public school students are now beating the national average – that’s in addition to an all-time-high graduation rate and students beating the national average on the ACT as well. We have made unprecedented investments in a well-rounded, student-centered education system, and we’re seeing the results of that shift. Most importantly, our students and educators have worked tirelessly, and I commend them. Every educator, student and supporter of public education in this state should feel a deep pride in the progress our schools are making.”

In ERW, Georgia students outperformed the nation by eight points, recording a score of 537 compared to the national average of 529. In math, Georgia was slightly behind the national average of 520 but increased its average to 517, up from 510 in 2017.