LEWISTON — Local High School SAT scores trended down this year compared to last, according to results released by the Maine Department of Education on Thursday.
Math and reading scores for Lewiston High School and Edward Little High School in Auburn went down according to the 2013-14 results. Those are the scores of current seniors who took the tests in May.
Testing results for all Maine schools, including all grades and graduation rates, are available on the state’s website, www.maine.gov/doe.
Lewiston High School students who met or exceeded the SAT standards for math decreased from 36 percent last year to 28.7 percent this year. Reading scores went from 42.3 percent to 38.5 percent this year.
At Edward Little, math scores meeting or exceeding the SAT standard went from 43.7 percent last year to 42.7 this year. Scores for meeting or exceeding the reading standard went from 41.3 to 34.4 percent this year.
“This is a measurement we look at, and we know we are not doing well on the SAT,” Katy Grondin, Auburn’s superintendent of schools, said. “It is a conversation piece and we do look at it and we are trying to do better.”
Lewiston Superintendent Bill Webster said it was a concern
“Obviously, we want our students to do the best they can on the SAT,” Webster said. “We want to improve and we need to improve on the SAT.”
But, Webster said, the exams are not the best tests of what Lewiston students are doing.
“First of all, we are comparing a group of students last May to a group from the previous year,” Webster said. “They have nothing in common, and any teacher will tell you that there can be great differences from class to class.”
The state average results for math scores increased slightly compared to last year. The percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards increased from 47.7 to 48.5 percent. Statewide average reading scores went down, from 48.6 to 47.6.
The Maine Department of Education noted that it’s the first time since the SAT was first administered in 2006 as a statewide assessment of juniors that state average math scores have outpaced those for critical reading.
“Maine students can be the best in the nation, and I am pleased to see them again moving in that direction by showing improvement in content areas like math and science that are critical to being competitive for 21st-century jobs,” Rachelle Tome, acting commissioner for the Maine Department of Education, said.
This is the last time the state will use the SAT as its required assessment for high school juniors. The state will move to the computer-based Smarter Balance testing system in 2015.
Webster said assessments will be very different.
“We’ll see how we do,” Webster said. “It’s a test that is much more geared to higher thinking skills. There is less straight problem-solving, less vocabulary and definitions. There is actually writing on it, so it is very different.”
Grondin said the Auburn schools are making moves to improve scores. They began offering math labs and after-class tutoring last year. The English department is following suit this year.
“We look at all of our data all of the time to make sure we are doing what we need to do to address students’ needs,” Grondin said.