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School district working to improve SAT, ACT scores

Posted: November 7, 2013 5:39 p.m.
Updated: November 8, 2013 5:00 a.m.

The Kershaw County School District (KCSD) is working on a new way to increase SAT and ACT scores.

KCSD Director for Student Assessment Lavoy Carter presented SAT and ACT rates during the Kershaw County School Board of School Trustees’ meeting Tuesday at Blaney Elementary School.

The district did not meet its performance goal for seniors to be at or above the national average for the SAT composite score or the ACT composite score. District seniors scored an overall 1,394; the national average is 1,474. The state average is 1,423, Carter reported. The district’s composite score dropped 10 points, but remained No. 30 in the state. There was a 1 percent increase in the number of SAT takers this year, Carter said.

ACT scores were above the state average, but below the national average. Seniors scored a 20.3; the national average is 20.9 and the state average is 20.1. District ACT score rose just three-tenths of a point this year. The district is ranked No. 17 in the state for ACT scores; however, the number of students who took the test decreased by 11 this year compared to last year.

The SAT is more of an aptitude test and the ACT is a curriculum based test, Carter said. SAT and ACT are no longer acronyms, he added. Students can choose to take either test or both tests. The scores did not include the averages from Kershaw County juniors, Carter said. He also said the district was unable to determine how many seniors took both tests.  KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan said socio-economic levels play a factor in SAT scores more than with the ACT.

Morgan said a guidance plan the board adopted in May will train guidance counselors on how to get students prepared for the SAT and ACT earlier. Guidance counselors need to start talking with students and their parents about the tests on the fifth- through seventh-grade levels, he said, adding that goes along with his philosophy of working to be proactive rather than reactive.

“We don’t just want the students to take the test, we want them to do well,” Morgan said.

A parent survey discussed during the board’s April meeting, when administrators presented the new guidance plan, showed that some parents don’t know who their child’s guidance counselor is and/or think they are hard to reach. The main function of a guidance counselor was also up for debate last spring, Executive Director for K-12 Instructional Support Systems Dr. Alisa Goodman said. Goodman worked with a 17-member committee to develop a five-year plan to realign district guidance counselor’s attention to student achievement and career-readiness.

Trustees Nissary Wood and Ron Blackmon said students who haven’t taken those classes traditionally thought to better prepare students for tests like the ACT and SAT, should not be discouraged from taking the tests. Blackmon said he is interested in getting data on the number of students that repeat the ninth grade, as that is another indicator of a student’s future success. Vice-Chair Kim Horton DuRant said she thinks it is “great” that the district will start preparing kids and talking to parents earlier. Learning about how to prepare their children for the two tests can be “intimidating” for parents, she said.  

In other business:

• The board unanimously to approve policy changes required by the general assembly regarding concussions and Assisting, Developing and Evaluating Professional Teaching. The board reviewed the policies during one of its October board meetings. Morgan reported there have been four concussions at Camden High School (CHS). The district previously reported there had been no concussions at CHS.

• The board will make a presentation on usage of a millage increase to Kershaw County Council on Tuesday. Safe School Healthy Students Director Kevin Rhodes will also make a presentation on behalf of the Safe Communities Commission.

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