Beach schools’ SAT, ACT scores fall below state average

Virginia Beach Public Schools fell below the state average in SAT and ACT scores for the 2014-2015 school year, according to data presented Tuesday by its department of teaching and learning.

The SATs are graded on a scale of 200 to 800 and are broken into three categories – math, critical reading and writing. Virginia’s public schools scored a 513 in math, 515 in critical reading and a 495 in writing. Virginia Beach public schools fell nine points behind in math, eight points behind in critical reading and 11 points behind in writing.

“It’s disappointing data to say the least,” School Board member Carolyn Weems said.

When compared against the national average, Virginia Beach public schools scored higher than average in critical reading and tied with the average writing score at 484. In math, however, the national average was 511, seven points higher than the Virginia Beach score.

More than 3,100 Beach public school students took the SAT, while 1,011 took the ACT. Averages in all four ACT subject areas were above the national average but below the state average.

The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36. Virginia Beach Public School students scored 21.7 in English, 22 in Math, 22.5 in reading and 22.2 in science, compared with the state averages of 22.5, 22.7, 23.4 and 22.7, respectively.

School Board member Ashley McLeod asked if the scores could be the result of some schools forcing students who might not be prepared to take the test anyway.

James Pohl, executive director for secondary teaching and learning, said all students considering post-high school education are recommended to take the SAT, ACT or both. He said schools do not force students to take them if they have no desire to.

School Board Chairman Dan Edwards said there is no way to tell why the scores were below the state average. But he said if students who might not be fully prepared are pushing themselves and trying the SAT or the ACT, there might be a trade-off in terms of the average score.

Board members, including Carolyn Rye and Weems, said they wanted to provide more resources to help students prepare for and score higher on the tests.

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