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Sept. 25, 2005

Blair pushes for SAT participation

by Varun Gulati, Page Editor
Blair's recent effort to increase SAT participation was likely the cause of the 44-point drop in the average SAT score, according to Principal Phillip Gainous.

For the class of 2005, Blair attempted to increase SAT participation among seniors. "We did a big push this past year to have more students take it seriously and take it more often," according to Sundra Mann, Blair's SAT coordinator.

The overall goal was for more seniors to take the SAT, a test required by most colleges. "It's not restricted to students we know should do well," said Gainous, adding that students with financial problems were not discouraged, but instead given test fee waivers.

Blair's main targets were minority students and students who generally scored in the 900 to 1000 range. Free SAT classes were offered to help those students overcome the 1000 mark. Mann and other teachers visited individual classrooms, asking seniors if they needed help with the SAT and assisting them in registration.

The drop in SAT scores did not come as a surprise to Gainous. "Typically, when you broaden the participation, your numbers tend to go down," he said.

Blair has also tried encouraging students to take the test multiple times, a strategy that allows for the highest possible cumulative score. "Most of the white and Asian kids go in knowing this," said Gainous, who has been trying to introduce minorities to the idea of multiple-test taking. One girl, he noted, told him about a strategy where she focused all her energy on one section, such as Math, for one test date, and focused her energy on the other section, such as Critical Reading, during the second test date. Though her scores were recorded individually for Blair, colleges looked at her highest cumulative score, which was close to 1600. "For some, it's a great strategy."

Gainous feels no hesitation in encouraging students who score low to take the SAT. "This is all about the students," he said.

Magnet and CAP scores have a "tremendous" effect on Blair's average scores. Generally, after receiving SAT data for the graduated senior class, Blair will produce two more pieces of data: the average SAT score not including Magnet and CAP students, and the average SAT score only including those students whose home school is Blair.

In October and November, Blair will make a big push for seniors to take the December SAT, which is generally the last test date accepted by colleges. After that, they will focus on getting juniors to register for the test.

Two years ago, several MCPS principals complained that superintendent Jerry Weast had discouraged low-scoring students from taking the SAT, in order to boost MCPS' average. Gainous said that the discouraging had "quieted" and that Weast was pleased with the participation.



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  • huh? on September 25, 2005 at 8:20 PM
    "the average SAT score not including Magnet and CAP students, and the average SAT score only including those students whose home school is Blair. "

    What's the difference?
  • dude on September 25, 2005 at 8:36 PM
    what? this can't be current at all. the current full possible score is 2400.
  • minh on September 25, 2005 at 8:50 PM
    good reporting, varun!
  • a on September 25, 2005 at 8:58 PM
    "the average SAT score not including Magnet and CAP students, and the average SAT score only including those students whose home school is Blair. "

    That doesn't make sense. Not including Magnet/CAP students = students whose home school is Blair.
  • baooo on September 25, 2005 at 11:06 PM
    yea varun! =P
  • dude on September 26, 2005 at 9:53 AM
    how outdated is this? every knows the current SAT is out of 2400 not 1600. that was last year....
  • Anonymous on September 26, 2005 at 4:02 PM
    to dude: this is talking about the scores of last years graduating class. Hence the scores out of 1600 as that is what it was out of when they took the test. But schoolwide scores were just released.

    to a: there are students in magent and cap whose home school is Blair. These people are counted in the one measure but not in the other.
  • Anonymously Liberal on September 26, 2005 at 5:25 PM
    Of course it's 1600. It's talking about students and groups of students who scored--past tense--in the 900 to 1000 range.
  • Anonymous on September 26, 2005 at 6:30 PM
    people in magnet and CAP can have blair as their homeschool
  • em O'Brien (View Email) on September 28, 2005 at 10:58 AM
    I'd be interested in seeing the scores for just magnet/cap students and the scores for everyone not in those programs. Is there any way you can publish this info on the site?

    Thanks for continuing to do an awesome job SCO, I love that I can still read about everything going on at Blair even though I'm in college!
  • rebecca (View Email) on October 30, 2005 at 9:45 PM
    so then if its now out of 2400, what is the "average" total score one should get? because i studied my ass off and only got a 1200. was it out of 2400? if if was then isn't that a horrible grade or no?
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