Richmond County schools have seen a 24-point increase in their Scholastic Aptitude Test average over the last five years, including a six-point gain last year, but education officials don't want to predict this year's scores.
Superintendent Charles Larke did not return telephone messages last week, but he said last year that the county system's goal was to exceed Georgia's average score -- 968 last year -- by 2001.
Georgia's SAT scores are expected to be released Tuesday.
Last year, Richmond County's overall average score increased from 905 the previous year to 911. Since 1994, the county's average score has increased from 887. The scores, however, are still below state and national averages.
Area principals say $250,000 spent by the Georgia Legislature two years ago for SAT preparation software is paying off.
Quentin Motley, principal of Lucy C. Laney High School, attributes his school's 19-point gain last year -- from 762 to 781 -- to the software, but he said some students don't take advantage of the program.
"Some students don't go through the steps and wait until the last minute and just jump in and take the SAT," Mr. Motley said. "That contributes to a decrease in the score. If they go through the program we have, they will be more successful. I'm not going to say they will score over the 1,000 range, but they will be more successful than they would by not going through the program we have set up for them."
Academy of Richmond County was the big winner last year, adding 50 points to its previous score of 856. Butler High school saw a 17-point gain last year from 835 to 852.
Butler High Principal Chris Henry said his school tries to prepare students as much as possible for the exam.
"We generally try to get the students to finish the lab work two to three days before the Saturday exam," Mr. Henry said. "We try to use the two weeks prior to the Saturday administration for them to get in 20 hours in lab, but they have to go to their regular class as well so they don't fall behind.
"I have seen specific examples of children who participated in the lab and brought up their scores," Mr. Henry said.
Jennifer Roper, a senior at Westside High School, said she will take the SAT in October and she's starting to prepare.
"We have a study group that will start next week," Jennifer said, "and our literature teacher adds 15 vocabulary words to our list each week that will be on the SAT."
Jennifer said she's nervous about taking the test, but she plans to be ready when the time comes.
Marguerite Johnson said she's proud of her daughter Edwina's score on the SAT. Edwina is a senior at Academy of Richmond County.
"She made a 1,040," Mrs. Johnson said. "She studied a lot with a group of her friends."
Superintendent Charles Larke will announce Richmond County's schools' Scholastic Aptitude Test average scores at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the school board office, 2083 Heckle St. in Augusta.
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