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County SAT scores improving

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SAT scores are rising for most of Johnson County’s high schools; and while one local school district is well ahead of the state and national averages, others have some catching up to do.

The average critical reading scores for 2012 graduates for both Indiana and the U.S. fell by a point from last year. Average math scores held steady while state writing rose about a point, according to data released this week from College Board, which administers the SAT.

Center Grove High School had the highest average SAT scores in the county, and while its math score fell slightly, all three of its average scores were above the state and national numbers, according to College Board.

The largest gains in the county were made at Indian Creek High Schools, where the averages on all portions of the SAT improved by eight to 20 points.

Those scores put the school ahead of the state and national averages for critical reading, and the math and writing scores also are improving.

Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson Superintendent Matt Prusiecki said a review of the high school’s courses helped ensure students were being taught all they needed for the SAT and for college-level courses, and that led to the increase.

Now other local school districts, including Greenwood and Franklin schools, plan to re-emphasize their college offerings so that students’ average scores will rise.

The SAT is one of two exams students can take and submit to colleges as part of their admissions applications, and in Indiana it’s the more popular of the two exams. About 66 percent of 2012 graduates from five local high schools took the SAT last year, about double the number who took the ACT.

Franklin’s scores increased in all three subject areas. The school’s averages are now ahead of the state’s, and Franklin Community High School Principal Doug Harter said he wants the scores to climb above the national numbers, as well.

Harter said scores improved because the high school has been

encouraging students to take more college-level courses, and that needs to continue, especially in math.

Students still may avoid taking a fourth year of math their senior year or taking Algebra I as an eighth-grader. But the more math those students take, the better prepared they’ll be for the SAT and college, Harter said.

Greenwood’s average SAT scores had been rising between 2006 and 2010, but then the numbers started to dip. That’s because teachers at Greenwood Community High School had been spending more of their time working with students who were behind in their high school courses to ensure they could catch up, guidance director Bill Ronk said.

“There’s only so much energy in any given system,” he said.

Greenwood wasn’t ignoring college preparation, but the high school wanted to be sure kids were passing their classes before preparing them for college. Now Greenwood plans to get more students into SAT preparation classes before school and enroll more in college-level courses, Ronk said.

Average SAT scores also vary at least a little from year to year, and he’s encouraged by the early scores he’s seen from students who took the exam in May.

Those seniors earned higher scores on the exam’s three sections. Scores on each section can range from 200 to 800, and Greenwood students who took the SAT in the spring earned 600s on each section, Ronk said.

More students still need to take the exam, but if their scores are as high as their classmates, then the overall scores for each subject area could rise about 20 points, he said.

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