ALBANY, Ga. — The College Board released SAT results for the class of 2011 Wednesday and the six of the seven public high schools in the Metro Albany area improved their average overall scores slightly from 2010.
Terrell County High School saw the biggest improvement, jumping 48 points from an average score of 1210 last year to 1258 — but still well below the state average of 1445, which is down from 1451 last year.
Westover was the only area school to drop, falling 28 points from 1382 to 1354.
Lee County was the only school to surpass the state average, rising two points from 1459 to 1461. Lee was also the only school to better the state average score in critical reading, coming in at 498 — a single point above the state average of 497.
Other are results saw Albany High rise eight points from 1323 to 1331, Dougherty High improve 17 points from 1192 to 1209, Monroe High boost its numbers eight points from 1184 to 1192, and Worth County edge up two points from 1317 to 1319.
Deerfield-Windsor School has received its results, but officials there say their policy is to not release the numbers. The Herald did not receive a response Wednesday afternoon from Sherwood Christian School.
The number of test-takers increased to 72,510, up from 66,000 in 2010. Typically, states with larger pools of test-takers have lower scores, particularly in states like Georgia with large minority populations that historically do not perform as well on the exam as their white classmates.
The state’s reading scores fell to the lowest level on record, and those results reflect the record number of students from the high school class of 2011 who took the exam and the growing diversity of the test-taking pool — particularly among Hispanics.
The number of minority students in Georgia taking the test also rose one point to 46 percent in 2011. State Superintendent John Barge noted Georgia has very high minority participation on the SAT and the achievement gap affects overall SAT scores more than most other states.
“The good news for Georgia is that our achievement gap is much smaller than the nation’s,” Barge said. “The bad news is that we still have an achievement gap that must be closed.”
The three-point decline to 497 on the 800-point test was only the second time in the last two decades that reading scores have fallen as much in a single year. And reading scores are now notably lower than scores as recently as 2005, when the average was 508.
Average math scores for the class of 2011 fell one point to 514 and scores on the critical reading section fell two points to 489.
Other recent tests of reading skills, such as the National Assessment of Education Progress, have shown reading skills of high-school students holding fairly steady. And the pool of students who take the SAT is tilted toward college-goers and not necessarily representative of all high school students.
But the relatively poor performance on the SATs could raise questions whether reading and writing instruction need even more emphasis to accommodate the country’s changing demographics.
Roughly 27 percent of the 1.65 million test-takers last year had a first language other than English, up from 19 percent just a decade ago.
Jim Montoya, vice president of relationship development at the College Board, said the expanding Latino population was a factor, as well as greater outreach to get minority students to take the test. But there are others, too.
“It’s a lot of little things,” he said. For example, he said, the number of black students taking a solid core curriculum — a strong predictor of success on the test — has fallen from 69 percent to 66 percent over a decade.
The College Board, a membership organization that owns the exam and promotes college access, also released its first “College and Career Benchmark” report, which it said would eventually be used to help show states and school districts how well prepared their students are. Based on research at 100 colleges, it calculated that scoring 1550 or above on the three sections of the test indicated a 65-percent likelihood of attaining a B-minus or above average in the freshman year of college.
Overall, 43 percent of test-takers reached that benchmark.
The SAT and rival ACT exam are taken by roughly the same number of students each year. Most colleges require scores from at least one of the exams but will consider either. In recent years, some colleges have adopted test-optional policies allowing applicants to decline to submit test scores at all.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.