Sue shares her expertise on college admissions tests with a Pennsylvania news outlet.
Central Bucks, Council Rock tops in SAT scores
By Gary Weckselblatt, staff writer | Posted: Thursday, February 18, 2016 5:30 am
Bucks County’s two largest school districts are among the state’s top performers in the recently released 2015 SAT scores.
Council Rock North ranks ninth in Pennsylvania with an average composite score of 1735 and Central Bucks East 13th with an average composite score of 1709 for critical reading, math and writing. A little further down the list, those districts again congregate as CB South (1632), CR South (1631) and CB West (1627) finish 39th, 42nd and 43rd, respectively.
The scores “really reflect on our excellent teachers and show that our kids really want to learn and apply their learning in ways that affect their future,” said David Weitzel, superintendent of the Central Bucks School District. “It does reflect value on a K-12 education and readiness for college or a career.”
Barry Desko, Council Rock’s director of secondary education, said while the district doesn’t teach to any one specific test, the results “are one more piece in a bigger picture to help us assess how we’re doing.”
In Bucks County, New Hope-Solebury ranked 18th overall with a score of 1695. Palisades (1609), Pennsbury (1592) and Pennridge (1563) finished among the state’s top 100 high schools.
In eastern Montgomery County, Upper Dublin (1705), Lower Moreland (1676), Jenkintown (1675) and North Penn (1638) were among the top schools.
Pennsylvania’s highest and lowest scores were from Philadelphia schools. The Julia Reynolds Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School, a magnet school, finished with a 1993. The Community Academy of Philadelphia Charter School scored 903.
SAT scores can range from 600 to 2400. The average score, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, is about 1500. In 2013, the mean scores were 496 in critical reading, 514 in math and 488 in writing for a total of 1498.
How important are SAT scores? According to The College Board, it depends on the admission process at the school to which a student applies.
Most students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the most selective colleges in the U.S., had high school grade-point averages of 4.0 and SAT scores above 2100.
Pennsylvania State University seeks an SAT score of 1750-2000 for its University Park campus and between a 1460-1690 for its other campuses.
Sue Luse, a certified educational consultant who helps families in the college application process, said while standardized test scores are important, she tells her clients that the rigor of a student’s high school classes and the student’s GPA are more critical in the college application process.
“Tests are still important, yes, but there are several schools that are test optional,” she said.
Luse also points out that the ACT (American College Testing) is becoming more prevalent as a test option for students, which might be why the SAT is changing its format.
According to StudyPoints, which offers in-home academic tutoring and test preparation, the SAT continues to reign in popularity on the East and West coasts, while the ACT is the more popular test in the Midwest.
“We certainly want our kids to be successful on the tests because colleges still are looking at SATs,” said Weitzel, superintendent of Central Bucks. “It still is a measure used by colleges and universities. It’s being downplayed a bit more, but they haven’t gone away.”
Staff Writer with The Intelligencer and Courier Times
Follow me on Twitter @gweckselblatt