On Tuesday, Aug. 29, Loudoun County Public Schools released SAT scores, which were slightly lower than last year’s, but above the Virginia and national averages.
Countywide students scored an average of 525 on the critical reading section, formerly known as the verbal section, as compared to the Virginia average of 512 and national average of 503. Seniors scored an average of 528 as compared to the state’s average of 512 and the nation’s average of 518. This year, the SATs added a writing component to the exam, which Loudoun students scored an average of 508, compared to the statewide average of 504 and nationwide average of 497.
While Dominion, Park View and Potomac Falls high-school seniors scored above the averages, when compared to their school’s previous senior class, they fell short.
AT PARK VIEW High School, seniors accumulated an average of 488 points on the reading section, 10 points lower than last year’s senior class. On the math section, they scored an average of 489 points, 35 points less than last year.
While Park View High School scored the lowest out of Loudoun County’s eight high schools, School Board member J. Warren Geurin (Sterling) said he is not too concerned about the low scores, considering the school increased its scores 12 points last year.
"The scores fluctuate year to year depending on the kids who take the test," he said. "It’s important to remember SAT scores reflect the individual student. I don’t think it’s appropriate to judge the school solely based on SAT scores."
Potomac Falls High School seniors scored 517 on reading, seven points lower than 2005-2006 results and 532 in math, 10 points lower than last year’s seniors.
Unlike Park View and Potomac Falls, Dominion High School scored two points higher than last year, 513, but scored a 525 in math, four points lower than the previous class.
ASSISTANT Superintendent of Instruction Sharon Ackerman said it is important for administrators to look beyond the scores. It is also important to see how many students are taking the exam, she said.
The number of Loudoun County students taking the SATs increased by 6 percent this year, from 1,860 students to 1,966 students.
"Ten years ago, primarily white students were taking the test," Ackerman said. "We are becoming a more diverse school system. It is pleasing to me to see a lot more students taking the exam."
In Loudoun, 20 percent more African-Americans, 20 percent more Hispanics and 30 percent more Asians participated in the SATs this year and 20 percent of SAT-takers listed English as a second language in their home.
Geurin said the county’s goal is to have as many students take the SATs as possible.
To expose students to the SATs, Loudoun County Public Schools spokesperson Wayde Byard said it is mandatory for students in grades nine through 11 take a practice exam free of charge.
"This gets kids acclimated to the test," Byard said. "It gives them an idea of their strengths and weaknesses and what they need to work on."
PARK VIEW High School student Kelsey Loy spent the summer preparing for her second crack at the SATs in October.
In preparation for round two, the rising senior enrolled in a private SAT class made up of a six students. Over the course of summer vacation, the class took four full-length practice SAT exams and received training in test-taking strategies.
Kelsey Loy’s mother, Lyn Loy, said she’s noticed a boost in her daughter’s self-confidence after completing the course.
"Thirty years ago, there was no such thing as an SAT prep class," she said. "I still remember feeling nervous when I took the SAT for the first time."
Over the years, the Park View High School PTSA president said she’s noticed an increase in competition among college-bound students.
"My role as a parent is to do what I can to help my daughter feel prepared but not overwhelmed by the pressure, which can be enormous in this area," Loy said.