City education officials called for an “emergency” intervention plan to address low SAT scores.
“You look at the mean average of our district over three years, our kids are scoring with a total of 1119, 1120, 1120,” said Christopher Irving, school board member, reading scores for 2012, 13, and 14.
Irving said city students’ average scores have remained flat for three years while New Jersey’s scores have incrementally increased during the same period. State average scores were 1511, 1521, and 1526 during the same three-year period.
“For each year we continue to be flat the State of New Jersey’s scores continue to rise,” said Irving, during a special board meeting to discuss student achievement on Wednesday.
Irving said there’s 800 points per section on exam yet city students are unable to even snatch half of the points. “Our kids aren’t cracking higher than 392,” he said. Out of a total of 594 students, who took the exam during the last school year, only 19 scored 1550 making them college ready.
“We need something right now for kids who are going to take the SAT to give these kids a fighting chance,” said Irving. “This is not fair.”
“You can’t wait until 10th or 11th grade to teach them how to divide fractions,” said Jonathan Hodges, school board member, urging a long-term approach. “So what really needs to be in place is some sort of individualized education plan so you can determine where they are and there’s an early warning system.”
“Dr. Hodges, it’s called the PSAT,” chimed in Irving. “When they take the PSAT in the 9th grade and they fall below the 1400 signs start going up.”
“That’s still too late,” said Hodges. He said it’s difficult to tackle the problem that late into a student’s academic life, for some hardly grasp divisions and fractions making algebra unteachable without certain mathematical foundations.
The practice version of the exam, PSAT, can be offered at lower grade levels to students to determine their readiness for the real exam, said Susana Peron, assistant superintendent for academic services and special programs. She suggested offering the practice exam to students in 6th and 7th grades.
Irving called for Saturday programs to prepare prospective exam takers for the SAT. State-appointed district superintendent Donnie Evans suggested summer programs that will prepare students for college.
“We’re in agreement with the need to do something,” said Evans. “We need to be doing additional interventions to get them ready and we will.”
Evans said a plan has been crafted and will be presented to the school board very soon.
Despite poor SAT scores, 379 city students were accepted into four-year colleges last academic year. The number represents the highest acceptance rate in the last four years.