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System slips a spot in SAT rank
South again posts highest local scores
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Forsyth County News

South Forsyth High School again led Forsyth County Schools' SAT charge, while the district dropped one spot in the statewide rankings, figures released Tuesday show.

The Georgia Department of Education released average SAT scores for the state's 2008 seniors in public, private and home schools.

The SAT is a widely accepted college entrance exam that takes students' math, critical reading and writing skills to task.

According to data released by the department, 1,104 seniors from the local school district took the test and scored an average 1,550.

The district's new superintendent, Buster Evans, said in a statement that he is pleased that "all three of our high schools who gave this test last year [to seniors] saw increases in scores this year."

"I think this overall improvement speaks well to the dedication of our staff members in helping all of our students focus on the necessary steps they need to take to be successful in their post-secondary educations," he said.

Evans has made improving the system's SAT scores a priority.

To that end, he launched the 2400 Challenge in an effort to lift the district from seventh in the state in SAT scores to first.

Officials hope to accomplish the initiative, which draws its name from a perfect score on the SAT, by better preparing students for college entrance exams.

Students can participate in online SAT preparation classes through the state education department.

Though the program debuted in the spring, about the time that many students took the SAT, this year's eighth-place ranking underscores the magnitude of that challenge.

The data shows that 528 South Forsyth seniors took the SAT and scored an average 1,585.

Forsyth Central followed with 291 students who scored an average 1,525 and at North Forsyth High, 275 seniors took the test and scored an average 1519.

The data shows nine students at Forsyth Academy took the test.

West Forsyth opened in 2007 and the 2008 scores are the first for the school.

In addition, data released by the school system shows that 132 students from West took the test with an average score of 1,537.

South Principal Jason Branch said he is proud of student performance on the test.

"At South we are about constant improvement and I am very pleased to say that our students' SAT scores improved in every area this year and outperformed the state and national averages by a significant margin," he said.

Branch also said the scores are a reflection of the commitment to excellence by the school's staff, community and students.

West Principal Richard Gill commended the school's faculty and staff for their work.

"This being our first year as a school, I am blown away by our students' performance on the SAT," Gill said.

Statewide, students had an average score of 1,466, ranking Georgia 47th nationally.

Public school seniors ranked 45th in the country with an average score of 1,466.

According to a statement from the state education department, efforts are under way to improve SAT scores.
Georgia's scores are rising on other national tests like the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the ACT, said State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox, "But on the SAT we saw a slight drop."

"We need to work with the College Board and figure out what's going on," she said.

According to an analysis by the College Board, fewer students are taking the SAT more than once.

That is significant because students who retake the test often score better than they did the first time.

The drop also coincides with an increase in the number of students who are taking the ACT.

State composite ACT scores improved from 20.3 in 2007 to 20.6 in 2008, while the national average dropped from 21.2 in 2007 to 21.1 this year.

The state's national ranking increased this year as well from 44th last year to 41st.