“It’s not like we said, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do to make the SAT scores better,’” Principal Ross Iddings said. “It’s more of our constant effort to continue to increase the higher order of thinking and increase the rigor in all of our classes.”
Ola High School saw the greatest composite leap of all Henry County high schools, jumping 72 points from a score of 1415 last year to 1487 this year.
The school also saw a 31-point jump in its reading scores, a 19-point increase in math and a 20-point increase in writing to surpass state and national averages with a score of 477.
“That has been a very concentrated effort getting our juniors to be more successful on the writing test,” he said.
The Georgia High School Writing Test is a graduation test all 11th-grade juniors must take to graduate.
“Our English department has done a great job of creating a process for teaching writing, such as having kids create writing portfolios they keep with them for four years so they can chart their own progress.”
While it’s geared toward the graduation test, Iddings said doing well on the writing portion of the SAT is a positive byproduct.
System-wide, Henry County high schools saw a 12-point increase in its composite score from 2011 to 2012, whereas and national composite scores saw decreases.
Henry County School System Assessment Coordinator Steve Thompson said the increased performance is due to a two-fold effort.
The first is the general nature of coursework within the system.
“Our increased results on the SAT really say that teachers and students are working really hard in their classrooms every day to expose students to rigorous coursework,” he said.
Thompson said offering Honors and Advanced Placement tests, as well as continued professional learning for teachers, aids in maintaining a necessary level of rigor.
The second effort is the pre-ACT and PSAT tests given to 10th-grade students, which allows them to better prepare for the actual test they will take a year later, while also allowing them to decide which assessment test fits them the best.
According to a Henry County Schools press release, Henry County students who participated in the PSAT at least once scored at minimum 80 points higher than students who did not take it.