Only 4 Cobb schools meet SAT targets
by Lindsay Field
September 29, 2012 01:14 AM | 8840 views | 17 17 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
<b>Note: The score for Gwinnett reported above is incorrect. Gwinnett's actual score is 1518.</b>
Note: The score for Gwinnett reported above is incorrect. Gwinnett's actual score is 1518.
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MARIETTA — Only four Cobb high schools met their target SAT score in 2012.

Kennesaw Mountain, Walton, Sprayberry and Campbell high schools reached their target scores. Only 14 schools set goals.

Overall, the Cobb School District reported an average score of 1520, short of its target of 1544, set in the Strategic Plan.

Kennesaw Mountain administrators attributed their success not to SAT-specific preparation but rather to rigorous classroom instruction, including encouraging students to take Advanced Placement classes.

“One of our school goals is reading across the curriculum, and the ability to read critically is

certainly a component of the SAT,” said Principal Kevin Daniel, whose students increased their scores by 34 points to 1572 and exceeded their target of 1557 by 15 points.

“The staff works in collaborative teams to incorporate reading strategies in their content areas. Also, math and English teachers teach skills that directly relate to the SAT and often include SAT practice items in their classes.”

They also work with Kaplan to offer a free SAT practice test to all students each semester, which allows the school to provide feedback to students and their parents about their test performance.

Walton Principal Judy McNeill said her schools’ SAT score is a result of students and staff’s hard work.

Walton reported an 18-point increase in 2012, up from 1725 in 2011 to 1743, in addition to exceeding their target of 1723 by 20 points.

“What prepares them for the SAT is that they have rigor and have learned the material throughout the year and know how to apply, because the SAT is based more on ability,” she said.

Within each teacher’s curriculum are exercises from the online SAT prep program.

She said 628 students took the test in 2012, the most in Cobb Schools’ district.

“It’s just the culture of the Walton students that they want to take the SAT,” she said. “We encourage all the students to take the SAT to open options for them.”

Sprayberry students recorded an average of 1495 in 2012, outscoring the target of 1480 by 15 points and increasing over their 2011 score by 20 points.

At Campbell, last year’s seniors improved their score by 19 points from 1439 in 2011 to 1458 in 2012 and exceeded the target score of 1445 by 13 points.

While not all schools met their targets this year, principals still have something to be proud of.

Hillgrove Principal Dr. Robert Shaw said his students’ 2012 score of 1528 was 58 points higher than the 2011 score. The 2011-12 target score was 1542.

“Improving the performance of our students on the SAT and ACT has been a goal of ours and of the district for awhile, and our hope is that our efforts are paying off,” he said. “More than any other test students take, a good score on the SAT can create opportunities for kids, and that is what we are all about.”

While he couldn’t attribute the score increase to any one thing, he said a Cobb Foundation Grant and a Hillgrove PTSA Grant were used exclusively to help students improve their SAT performance.

“Since so many SAT classes and workshops already seemed to be focused on the high-achieving students, we worked with some of our ‘middle-of-the-road’ students who were given a pretest,” he said. “The Hillgrove counselors used the data from the pre-test to provide targeted remediation and SAT instruction.”

They are also working to include some online SAT prep into the curriculum for the American Literature classes, are trying to implement an SAT prep class during the school day and have an “SAT Word of the Day” as part of the morning announcements.

“While this will not help one student score higher on the test by itself, the students do hear, every morning, about the test through the SAT Word of the Day,” Shaw said.

North Cobb Principal Dr. Phillip Page, whose students’ scored an average of 1426 — 12 points lower than the target and 22 points lower than their 2011 score — said they need to find ways to better prepare his test-takers for the exam.

“We believe first-time test-takers, in particular, are ill-prepared for the exam,” he said. “Our school needs to continue to find means to educate students on preparation options and provide those options where possible.”

Allatoona High School did not and has never set a target, but principal Scott Bursmith is satisfied with his students’ 21-point gain. Students scored an average of 1495, up from 1474 last year.

“Our goal was continued improvement in SAT scores,” he said, attributing that increase to programs like Project 2400, a program in partnership between the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and Cobb Schools to help enhance student SAT scores.

“Students participating in Project 2400 have an average increase of over 200 points in their scores,” he said.

However, in May the Cobb school board reduced funding for Project 2400 by half this school year and completely in 2014 because of the FY13 $62 million deficit. It would save about $63,000.

Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa said the Cobb Schools Foundation, which has been given the responsibility of finding funds to continue the program, is having trouble doing that.

Marietta High School principal Leigh Colburn said her school don’t set a specific target but look to see about a 3 percent increase annually.

“SAT scores are really hard to predict because it’s a different cohort and they re-norm the test every year,” Colburn said.

This year, Marietta High’s overall score dropped 0.9 percent, or 23 points, from 1482 in 2011 to 1459 in 2012.

“The community needs to understand that this is a 2400-point scale,” she said. “The College Board defines any shift of 100 points as not being significant.”

She said her No. 1 priority is increasing the rigor in the classroom and participation in rigorous classes and to close the achievement gap between minorities on the SATs.

In order to do this, Marietta High offers SAT prep classes as electives, in addition to giving each student access to SAT prep classes online using Study Island and through their Community Schools program.

Patrick Winter with the University of Georgia’s undergraduate admissions office said that while it’s important for students to perform well on the SAT, standardized test scores are just one element of the college admissions process.

“At most colleges, grades and curriculum pursued in high school will almost always outweigh an ACT/SAT score in the importance of determining admissibility,” he said.

They also take into consideration a student’s extracurricular activities, writing ability, letters of recommendation, achievements in high school and trends in grades, whether they go up and down.

UGA received 19,000 applications for 4,900 spots this fall, Winter said.

The SAT is designed to predict a student’s potential for success in the first year of college. It tests students’ knowledge and application of reading, writing and math. Scores are good for five years.

The test is given multiple times a year at various locations and costs $50, with fee waivers available. More than 370,000 students and 27 percent, or 19,775 students, in Georgia received waivers this year.
Comments
(17)
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Ted Summers
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October 10, 2012
My son will be starting High School next year. While I don't care about the targets, I do care about the scores. I had Wheeler 4th on my short list of schools and their magnet programs. Now however after looking at the data I am looking harder at Wheeler and Kennesaw as the top 2 choices.

Mine you these choices are not just about the test results but also about the student body and teachers as well.
Hoya mom
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October 01, 2012
I think a realistic target for Harrison would be 1600 - achievable yet still would require the school as whole to stretch a bit. We're not quite at the level of a Walton, but I don't see why we're not up there with the other East Cobb schools.
Scores?
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September 30, 2012
Does anyone know if Harrison still has 2400 as their target? When I first say that target a few years ago I had to question the scores of those who set a perfect SAT score as the goal for all students.
North Cobb Mom
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September 30, 2012
Please tell me that the principal of Hillgroove H.S. did not say that the school was able to improve due to having a word of the day. No wonder our public schools are failing with a lady like this in charge.
anonymous
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October 01, 2012
While this will not help one student score higher on the test by itself, the students do hear, every morning, about the test through the SAT Word of the Day,” Shaw said.

Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal - Only 4 Cobb schools meet SAT targets
Cobbparent
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October 01, 2012
He, Dr. Robert Shaw, for the North Cobb Mom that cannot read, stated that he did not attribute the increase in SAT scores to any one thing and named multiple steps the school is taking to improve scores. I guess the staff at Hillgrove is doing something right considering their school had the largest increase in the county this year (58 points). But that's OK. You won't find that mentioned in the article in the MDJ. You have to be looking for it. Let's compare the multiple steps taken at Hillgrove to the plan of that provided by principal of North Cobb...."they need to find ways to better prepare his test-takers for the exam."

Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal - Only 4 Cobb schools meet SAT targets
Unwashed West Cobb
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September 29, 2012
What? The other two darlings of east Cobb, Pope & Lassiter, did not meet their targets?
Maatf
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September 29, 2012
Not sure about Pope and Lassiter reaching their improvement targets. But Walton, Pope, and Lassiter are listed as in the top 10 scorers among public high schools in the greater Metro area. Naturally, MDJ doesn't mention that.
What the?
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September 29, 2012
So, in keeping with the MDJ's usual negative slant on Cobb schools, only 4 met their target, but the only high school in the Marietta system doesn't even set a target (maybe to get around possible negative publicity from the paper?) and has a lower score than last year, but it's ok, because according to the MHS principal, the College Board says that any shift of less than 100 points is insignificant? If you're going to exonerate MHS on that reasoning, then you'd better exonerate all the Cobb schools for the same reasoning. Better yet, quit finding a way to dump on Cobb schools.
anonymous
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September 30, 2012
Hush now. You're disrupting the narrative.
Tests R Fun???
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September 29, 2012
My daughter was part of the Project 2400 3 years ago. Unfortunately, we did not have a good experience with it. Her score went down 10 - 20 points each time she took the test that semester. The instructors were not engaging and were late to class. They had different instructors / "substitutes" for more than 1/2 of the classes. She finally took the ACT in the middle of this chaos and scored a 29 on it the first time she took it. She ended up not using her SAT score at all. She got into a rigorous private college with an 80% funded scholarship. She is on the Dean's List and the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society for good grades.
anonymous
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September 29, 2012
When my daughter was applying to Berry College in 1997, the counselor at Berry suggested that she should take the ACT in addition to the SAT because some students will score better on one than the other just by the design of the test and the individuality of the student. Both tests are equal in qualifying students for college. He said the reason the SAT is emphasized over the ACT in high schools is that the schools get a monitary kick back from the SAT organization and the want those dollars.
anonymous
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September 29, 2012
Ditto on 2400 at Harrison High a few years back. Someone needs to check into what this is all about. Is it really about helping the kids, or is there some kind of money/financial trail involved?

Who is benefitting?
parent 2
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September 30, 2012
I agree with this parent. My daughter participated in the Project 2400 class two years ago at her school and it was a complete waste of time and money. The instructor was late most of the time. One time the instructor didn't even show up and was fired with a substitute stepping in for the last class.

Since most colleges accept the SAT or ACT more students are taking the ACT exam and that may have an impact on the SAT scores too.
shift in points
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September 29, 2012
The comment regarding shift was probably supposed to say a 100 pt shift is significant as it would represent a 4% change. In general, the media and public does over react to tiny movements up and down in SAT scores. A 24pt shift is a 1% change and it would be difficult to attribute that to any significant change unless the shift was all in one subtest. Unless you see a movement of more 75 pts or more, there is really nothing to react to...Cobb parents in general overreact to most things with regard to the school district, but the media fuels it. Community members need to educate themselves beyond the soundbites and really learn what is going on with their schools. Our schools are doing well on the SAT for the most part, especially if anyone takes the time to really analyze the participation rate and demographic breakdown for all of Georgia compared to the rest of the nation.
Common Sense
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September 29, 2012
This is my favorite quote of the entire article.

It’s just the culture of the Walton students that they want to take the SAT,” When it is realized that success starts with the expectations, willingness and work ethic for success at home set by the example of leadership in the home, education as a whole won't receive the black eye or blame for lack of success of the student. While it is always a combination of factors to help cultivate a successful student in the educational setting between the family, the school and the community, it always starts with the parents discussing expectations of their children at the dinner table. We need a revival of dinner table conversations in our country.

anonymous
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September 29, 2012
It is the culture of other schools in Cobb to take the SATs and have kids go to college also, but they are not all shameless self promoters the way the Walton community is. The "mystique" surrounding Walton, I believe, was created by the real estate community who wanted to keep home values high in an area where there are many older, seventies-built neighborhoods in need of revitalization.

Not to deride Walton, but I'm tired of the hype when there are quite a few other schools where parents and teachers care and kids go on to be very successful. They just don't crow about it every five seconds.
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