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From the Desk of Dr. Charles Murphy: October 1, 2010

The SATs are a standardized test to help colleges gauge the scholastic intelligence and academic caliber of students who seek admittance into their schools. The SATs place all students - whether they are from Long Island, New York State or other states across the country - on a level playing field since they are all asked to answer the same questions. Recently, the College Board released national, state and district SAT Reasoning Test data to the public. In fact, Newsday published this information in a September 13th article titled “Dip in Statewide SAT Scores...”

Overall, national SAT scores continue to decline for college bound students. Many researchers believe this is occurring as the result of far more students taking the exam compared to years ago, while others hypothesize that schools are not preparing students with the critical reading, math and writing skills necessary for success. Below is a chart that shows how Island Trees children have fared over the last six years, including this year. In short, our critical reading score has inched up from last year, but math, which has varied greatly over the past six years, fell considerably from our last year’s high of 523. Similar to the state’s writing results, our scores in this area have remained flat from the prior year.

Last fall, the Island Trees administration and the Board of Education identified our SAT scores as an area in need of improvement. Although many things are considered for college admittance, one of the key factors is success on the SAT. Generally speaking, a higher SAT score will give a student a competitive edge over other applicants. In fact, the difference separating students who gain admission and those who are denied could be a few points. Therefore, it is crucial to facilitate improvement in this area if our Island Trees students are going to compete not only against their own classmates, but also with their peers across the county.

Surprisingly, we discovered approximately 30 percent of our students take the SAT without sitting for the PSAT—a practice test which prepares students for the critical thinking questions assessed by the SAT. The research finds familiarity with the SAT enhances student performance. In response, the district is providing the opportunity for all Island Trees sophomore and juniors to take the PSATs during the school day in October. We believe the PSAT practice will be a tremendous help in preparation for the spring and fall SAT testing, and in turn, we expect higher SAT results for all of our students.

In addition, we plan to use the in-school PSAT results to identify low performing students. College bound students who perform poorly on the PSAT will be placed in a semester (half-year) SAT preparation course next school year. We believe this proactive intervention will facilitate improved SAT scores. This could be the difference in our students being accepted to the college of their choice. After all, the SAT weighs quite considerably in the college admission process.

In the long run, we need to strengthen our English Language Arts curriculum. A more rigorous and enriched program will enable our students to read and write better, and ultimately, our SAT scores will improve. Naturally, this will place our students in a more competitive advantage in the college admissions process.

If you have any questions about the SATs or the college admissions process, please contact our high school principal, Nick Grande or your child’s guidance counselor.

Island Trees SAT

Reading   
SAT     National    State     Island Trees   
2005    508           497           485   
2006    503           493           468   
2007    502           491           484   
2008    502           488           469   
2009    501           485           482   
2010    501           484           486   
 
Writing
SAT     National     State     Island Trees   
2006    497            483           469   
2007    492            482           486   
2008    494            481            471   
2009    493            478            486   
2010    492            478            486   
 
Math
SAT     National    State     Island Trees   
2005    520            511             515   
2006    518            510             500   
2007    515            505             519   
2008    515            504             510   
2009    515            502             523   
2010    516            499             505