FORSYTH COUNTY —Georgia saw slight year-to-year drops in state- and district-level SAT scores, but test takers in Forsyth County remained above the cut, including earning the highest score among the state’s 15 largest school districts for the second year.
All of Forsyth’s public high schools — and the district as a whole — surpassed Georgia’s SAT average for the 2014 exams for the sixth year, and posted higher scores than the national average for the second year.
“I am proud of the continued work of our students and staff,” said Jeff Bearden, school superintendent. “Though we had slight decreases in the school and district scores, this is reflective of what has occurred across the state this year.
“I am pleased that we increased our number of test takers by 158 additional students, bringing the total number of test takers to 1,946. Our district is committed to preparing students for college and the work force, and by having more students take the SAT [we] are creating greater opportunities for them.”
South Forsyth High posted the 12th highest school SAT score in Georgia, with Lambert at 19th.
“We’re thrilled, of course,” said Jeff Cheney, South principal. “It really shows we’re a community that wants the rigor for their students and a teaching staff who’s focusing on delivering that.
“We integrate a lot of high-level critical thinking and vocabulary through our curriculum to prepare our kids. We’re a school that’s operating at a level where we have an obligation to prepare our kids for competitive admissions.”
Cheney said a team met Tuesday after receiving official scores to start mapping out a plan for improvement.
“We look at the schools ahead of us, the ones with similar populations and demographics and size, and we want to reach out to them,” Cheney said. “Because they consistently score 30-40 points higher than us, even at the high level we’re achieving at.
“We did it about four years ago when we had a slight dip. We recommitted to prepping our students better.”
Cheney said he thinks South’s teachers are one of “the best teaching staffs in the state. They’re very dedicated, and they take their jobs very seriously. As a district, we’re fortunate to have our and the whole teaching staff.”
South ranked 15th in critical reading (550) and math (559). The school-wide score of 538 earned the 16th spot.
As a district, Forsyth was the only system to sit in the top five in all three tests. It was fifth for critical reading (527) and writing (509), while posting the highest math score (532) of any system in the state.
State averages for math (485) and critical reading (488) dropped by two points, according to a news release from the Georgia Department of Education. In writing, scores dropped by three points to 472.
“Do we want to see scores go up every year? Absolutely,” State School Superintendent John Barge said in a statement. “However, we know that as more Georgia students take the SAT, we will sometimes see slight decreases.
“The measures are in place to better prepare students for college and 21st-century careers and, by extension, the SAT. The gains in scores will come.”
Seventy-seven percent of Georgia seniors, or 73,626 total, took the SAT in 2014, marking a 2.1 percent increase from 2013, and more minority students are taking the test.
These are both positive indicators that greater numbers of students are pursuing higher education opportunities, according to the education department.