McKersie looks for positives in SAT scores

As the fall test looms, the figures are in for last year’s SATs, and the mean scores for Greenwich High School’s graduating class of 2012 decreased slightly compared to 2011 figures.

However, Superintendent of Schools William McKersie has said although there is always room for improvement, scores are flat rather than down. The 2012 mean scores decreased by seven points in math, three points in critical reading and three points in writing when compared to scores posted by the graduating class of 2011.

Though differences of less than four points in comparing mean SAT scores from year to year are not considered statistically significant, Dr. McKersie told the Post that the district still “stands for excellence” and would like to see scores increase rather than remain flat.

“The SAT is important and we take responsibility for those scores. We want them to grow,” he said.

In fact, he added, the district has been working on four strategic organizational points to improve education, which include school innovation, integrating technology to improve learning, gauging progress with multiple measures and common core.

Additionally, the district’s success system, a popular business management design known as dashboard methodology, which has made its way into the world of education, is in the preliminary stages of being reviewed and modified, with specific focus on college persistence rates, Dr. McKersie explained.

Nevertheless, the exam is only one indicator of students’ preparedness for college. It is important to the district, and to even the most prestigious universities, to evaluate student success using multiple measures such as Advanced Placement (AP) test scores and extracurricular activities rather than focusing on one standard, he said.

Furthermore, the superintendent said it is important to note that, as a whole, over the last 10 years the high school’s SAT scores have increased.

And, although comparative data from schools around the state and country have not yet been released, Dr. McKersie said he had a “hunch” that both statewide and nationally, SAT scores were either flat or have decreased this year.

“We’re going to continue to look quite good” compared to similar districts within the state, he said.

Test scores continue to be an issue in Greenwich, though. There are ongoing concerns about Greenwich’s performance on the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) and the Connecticut Aptitude Performance Test (CAPT), especially when compared to other schools in the area, considering how much the town spends per pupil. The SATs could add more fuel to that fire but the Board of Education has already begun a focus that it says will help identify achievement issues and what causes them.

Those tests are separate from the SATs, but this could well lead to renewed criticism about the district’s performance compared to other towns.

SAT tests are again scheduled to be given across the nation on Oct. 6.


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