MCPS announces record-breaking SAT scores

Aug. 31, 2004, midnight | By Christopher Consolino | 19 years, 9 months ago

Test scores praised during press conference at Blair

Superintendent Jerry Weast announced a record-breaking SAT average of 1102 for MCPS students in a press conference held earlier today in the Blair media center that was taped by several cable news services. The scores were hailed by MCPS Board of Education President Sharon Cox, while Weast specified that the improved scores are just the beginning of MCPS' positive changes.

Blair's scores, which had been declining since 2001, improved this year by 20 points. Blair is one of 11 MCPS high schools with scores averaging above 1100. In MCPS, too, test scores increased with the graduating class of 2004 scoring eight points higher than in 2003. This is the first average SAT score produced by MCPS seniors that exceeds 1100. A report authored by Weast noted a 32-point gain in the average Asian American score and the highest overall mean SAT verbal score - 541 - in 12 years. Countywide scores of African-Americans and Hispanics did not improve, however; their averages were 917 and 944 respectively.

According to Cox, the scores demonstrate that MCPS initiatives are improving schools. "It shows that our targeted reforms are working," announced Cox. "We have turned the corner on education reform in Montgomery County."

Weast joined Cox in praising the scores, stating that poverty is having less of an effect on standardized test scores in MCPS. Weast also laid out a plan to help foreign-born and non-English-speaking students succeed. He said that every child should be in pre-kindergarten programs and that parents should know English as well as "academic English" in order to help their children.

Principal Phillip Gainous applauded the improvement but was somewhat skeptical, stating that CAP and Magnet scores have a significant effect on Blair's SAT average. Even though Blair is considered a model school, Gainous said that he would like to see the rest of Blair's students improve their test scores.

According to Gainous, using and practicing proper English on a daily basis is necessary to increase test scores. "We are subtly trying to correct students," said Gainous, referring to the amount of slang students use regularly. "You need to get students reading, writing and speaking the English on this test."

Blair's SAT Prep Committee and the Honors Committee will review the new SAT data received from MCPS today. The two groups will view and analyze all of the data, but according to Gainous the focus will be on the scores of low-performing students.

During the conference Cox also announced plans to increase the academic challenge of courses in elementary, middle and high school, while also focusing on changing teaching methods. According to Cox, there has been "too long a focus on self-esteem, not on real academic rigor."

Weast concurred with Cox, stating that he thinks the county should make sure that the academic level of courses is high and at the same time that every teacher helps their students. "We're trying a new way of training teachers. Kids can do a lot more," Weast commented during the conference.

Both Weast and Cox agreed that the higher SAT scores and new ways of teaching will help more students academically beyond high school. They also believe that these scores will improve MCPS' image and help students get admitted into more prestigious colleges and universities.

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Christopher Consolino. Christopher Consolino is a senior in Communication Arts Program. If Chris had free time, he would spend it practicing piano and taking pictures with his 15 year-old Minolta. He would also like to stress how much better wet process photography is than digital. Most of … More »

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