Tommy Price said limits on test-takers are becoming common.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Comparisons between SAT scores in Columbia and Richmond counties are unfair, Columbia County Schools Superintendent Tommy Price said in a Tuesday Board of Education meeting.
Price said Richmond County's recent 1,000 mark in the SAT is misleading, adding that only a select number of students' SAT scores were included in Richmond County's overall average, which bolstered the number.
According to numbers released Aug. 31 by the state Department of Education, Columbia County's overall average on the 2003-04 SAT was 1,025, a 12-point drop from the previous year.
"We're not being compared on a level playing field," Price told school board members.
Before taking the SAT, students are given a code that identifies which school they attend. As a school system policy, Richmond County limits the students who are allowed to use the code.
By not filling in the school code, the test-takers' SAT scores are not averaged in with the rest of their classmates. All SAT test-takers in Columbia County are included in the system's average, Price said.
In Columbia County, 905 students took the SAT while only 604 Richmond County students took the test.
"They had around two-thirds the number of students take the test as we did," he said. "And they have a much larger system than we do."
Price said he believes that altering test scores by only allowing certain students to get credit for the test is becoming a statewide epidemic.
"I'm relatively certain that's becoming the norm," he said. "I can tell you, coming out of Atlanta, that's being encouraged."
Price also expressed his concern about a declining trend of SAT verbal scores by Columbia County students.
School officials will examine data relating to the verbal score to try to identify a cause, Price said.
One cause could be an increasing number of technical preparatory students taking the SAT, Price said.
"We have a considerable number of students not in college prep courses taking the test," he said. "That could play a factor."
In other action, board members approved the addition of an unfinished third floor to the new Board of Education headquarters, which begins construction next year on Hereford Farm Road.
The additional floor will cost $632,300, bringing the total cost of the building project to $3,192,300. The extra space will be used as the school board expands, Price said.
"We think it would be shortsighted not to put the third floor in there," Price said.
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