MCPS and Blair SAT scores increase, but participation drops
The Montgomery Blair High School Class of 2016 raised its SAT score by five points from 2015. However, the Class of 2016's SAT participation rate dropped both in MCPS and at Blair, and the decrease was even greater among Hispanic/Latino students.
Blair's Class of 2016 earned a combined average SAT score of 1730 out of 2400, a five point increase from 2015. Additionally, the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Class of 2016 earned a combined average SAT score of 1631, two points higher than that of the MCPS Class of 2015.
Principal Renay Johnson attributed the increase in SAT scores and decrease in SAT participation to a larger number of students opting to take the ACT instead. According to Johnson, with more "ready" students taking the SAT, the average score is bound to increase. "We are really making sure that students are taking the right test for them. The ACT tests less abstract skills and more concrete skills than the SAT, so some students choose to take the ACT, not the SAT," Johnson said.
Most colleges accept scores from either the SAT or ACT and use the scores as a factor in determining student admission and granting merit-based scholarships.
According to senior Alicia Pearson, who took the SAT and also plans to take the ACT, both exams assess students' concrete knowledge. "I feel like [the SAT] was pretty straightforward, especially for the math section...I feel like the ACT is also straightforward," Pearson said.
Pearson believed that one major difference between the SAT and the ACT is the differing time restrictions. "The ACT will be better than the SAT for the fact that it's not as difficult as the SAT, but the only issue is that it's shorter than the SAT, so you get less time on each problem," Pearson said.
2016 Hispanic/Latino graduates, both in MCPS and at Blair, scored a lower combined average on the SAT than their Asian, white and black counterparts. "Many of our students continue to perform at a high level on this assessment, but not all. We must continue to focus on closing this and other gaps in outcomes for our students so that scores are not predictable by race, ethnicity, socio-economic status or service," MCPS Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jack R. Smith said.
According to Johnson, SAT and ACT prep classes are the key to closing the "achievement gap." "Don't let your students take a college test without proper preparation," Johnson said.
Blair offers several free or reduced price SAT prep options for students. "Some companies like Princeton Review charge $2,000. We offer SAT prep courses to students who qualify for financial aid at reduced rates. We also offer every student a free Khan Academy account," Johnson said.
One SAT prep course available for Blair students is the George B. Thomas Saturday School, which is held at Blair from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturdays. Students can attend and receive one-on-one attention with certified teachers (including one teacher from Princeton Review) for an annual fee of $70.
Zoe Friedman. Zoë Friedman is a junior at Montgomery Blair HS. She loves running XC and track, exercising, writing, cooking, marketing and creating business ideas. She's self-published two cookbooks since her freshman year. In her free time, she watches baseball and makes and packages her own energy ... More »