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Richmond County to focus on preparing students for college tests

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The Richmond County school system is putting a stronger focus on test preparation this year for high school students.

Administrators have designed an SAT/ACT College Readiness Learning plan – a strategy to identify students who need improvement, enforce preparatory classes in each school and analyze data to improve scores – which will start immediately.

According to data from the district, students at seven of 10 high schools who took SAT preparatory work in 2011 had higher average composite scores than those who didn’t.

For the College Readiness Learning Plan, Lynn Warr, the executive director for high schools, said the district used this data in deciding to take more advance action in preparing students.

“They’re really going to try and have some good conversations with these students in where they are, where they want to go and what they need to do,” Warr said.

Richmond County’s average composite SAT score fell in 2011 from 1332 to 1269, but the number of test-takers also increased by 75 students. The maximum composite SAT score is 2400.

The new initiative includes focusing on improvement for students who score 900 or below and requiring each school to offer preparatory classes during the school day, after school or on Saturdays or allow students to work from home.

Warr said each school will design a plan that best fits its students, but schools must determine those who need to retest and create methods for test preparation by December.

Another aspect of the plan is to identify which students should not take the SAT at a particular time because of low achievement.

In the presentation of the plan at the Richmond County Board of Education meeting Tuesday, several board members took issue with educators telling students they should not pursue taking the SAT.

“For those who may not be college bound, you would advise them which test they’re going to need for whatever career path they have chosen,” said Carol Rountree, the district’s executive director for student services. “We would not advise them simply, yes, you take it or, no, you don’t. It needs to be a part of a comprehensive advisement process.”

Board member Frank Dolan said college should be a goal for all students.

“I think telling somebody in the 12th grade that, all of a sudden, you’re out of business, I think that would be horrific,” he said. “I think we should start in the ninth grade with the parents and the child: ‘For you to get to college, this is your path.’ ”

Other board members also said test preparation should start before 10th grade.

Acting Superintendent James Whitson agreed after Dolan said it’s difficult to increase a senior’s score in just one year.

“We need to be talking to students as early as the middle schools to make sure we are preparing them,” Whitson said. “This is not a high school problem. It’s all the way down to the middle schools.”


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