The SAT results are in, and all three local high schools scored better than both the state and national averages. Chantilly was highest of the three on the verbal portion, while Centreville topped the trio in math.
The SAT was given to seniors in the class of 2002 last year, and Fairfax County Public Schools students achieved an average score of 556 in math, compared to 516 nationwide and 506 statewide. On the verbal section, FCPS students did likewise, with an average score of 540, compared to 504 nationwide and 510 statewide.
Chantilly improved its last year's scores in both areas, going from 540 to 542 on the verbal and from 552 to 557 in math. Principal Tammy Turner was especially happy with the results.
"I'm very proud of our kids and teachers," she said. "Each year, you're comparing different kids so, from year to year, you never know how you'll do." She said the school focuses on reading skills and encourages students to continue taking math classes and not stop at the minimum requirements.
Because of these efforts, said Turner, "We have heavy enrollment in higher math, such as trigonometry and calculus. And students taking [these courses] do better on their SATs."
Overall, the focus seems to be working. "Last year was the first year for our AP English in 11th grade, which concentrates on language skills," she said. "In 12th-grade AP English, the emphasis is on literature." Turner said both programs have strong enrollment.
However, she added, "It's not just kids in accelerated courses. We work hard with all our kids [to prepare them] for college."
Centreville improved in math, going from 548 last year to 560 this year. It went down a bit on the verbal, from 542 to 536. Principal Pam Latt was pleased, but wants Centreville to do better on both sections — especially verbal.
"We have plans this year to strive for that," she said. "Experts will provide in-service training to the teachers on what's to be expected on the verbal part of the SATs. In the past four years or so, it's changed significantly in the writing and vocabulary requirements and in the reading level."
And since another change is in the works for next time, said Latt, "We're going to learn all about it so we can prepare — we can't rest."
Westfield's first SAT scores ever were 523, verbal and 539, math. "We feel very good that we beat the state and national averages, but we're not anywhere near where we want to be," said Principal Dale Rumberger. "For the first time out, we're pleased, but now we're going to build on that."
He said the scores only reflect the last time seniors took the test; a senior could have previously gotten a higher score, but only the last one is reported. Nonetheless, he said, "We plan to focus on it through the curriculum and [by] getting the kids to work as hard as they can. Watch us — give us some time."