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More local students taking college prep tests
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Results for the class of 2011 on college readiness tests and for students who took advanced placement exams in the 2011 indicate increased participation, with mixed gains in scores.

The SAT, the widely popular college entrance aptitude exam, jumped to 448 participants, an all-time high for the system. From 2010, average scores for the Effingham County classes of 2011 dropped 9 points to 1418 out of a possible 2400. But student and profession learning coordinator for Effingham schools Judith Shuman assured the Board of Education said that 10 point jumps or drops from year to year are expected because of the nature of SAT scoring.

“More than half of all high schools experience mean score changes of at least 10 points up or down from one year to the next,” Shuman said. “So a single year is not something that they are telling us needs to be a total cause for alarm … those kinds of fluctuations are to be expected.”

Shuman showed the BoE scores from different states with high and low percentages of students tested to illustrate how means scores were lower in states with higher participation, such as Georgia. She also said that high participation in the SAT and the ACT show that more students are college bound.

“Some students will take the SAT and be disappointed with their scores and because of the kind of test the ACT is, just a different approach, sometimes our counselors will say, ‘have you tried the ACT?’” she said.“Sometimes our students will perform and show up a little better on the ACT. So it’s just an alternative for them to look at as well.”

For the ACT, a curriculum-based entrance exam gaining popularity as more students become college bound, participants in Effingham held steady at 147 with the system’s average composite score for 2011 at 20.2 out of 36 from 21.1 in 2010. Georgia averaged 20.6 and the nation was 21.1, with a 22 being the suggested benchmark score for college readiness.

Shuman said that colleges, even though the SAT is the most prevalent test, accept ACT scores as well.

Students in AP course are subjected to the most rigorous curriculum available to them and can earn college credit by scoring a 3 or higher out of 5 an AP exam. And Effingham students capitalized on this opportunity, with 49.3 percent scoring a 3 or higher on exams in 2011, up from 39.3 in 2010.

There were 339 exams administered in Effingham, down 48 from 2010 after state funding that provided one AP exam per student was eliminated. Exams are $80 per test. Out of 33 available AP courses, 14 are offered at Effingham high schools.

At South Effingham High, 57 percent of students in AP English earned college credit scoring 3 or higher. SEHS also had 84 percent in AP human geography and 100 percent in studio art earn a 3 or higher on AP exams in 2011. At Effingham County High School, 75 percent of student who took the AP calculus exam earned college credit for the class.