Ahead of the curve


Published: Friday, September 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 1, 2006 at 12:53 a.m.
Like nearly every other school district in America, Alachua County's is struggling to reduce its dropout rate and improve achievement scores of low socio-economic status students who often do not enter school "ready to learn." Still, it's encouraging to know that the district seems to be "ahead of the curve" when it comes to preparing college-bound high school students.
And it is really impressive to learn that, this year, Alachua County high school juniors who took the SAT college assessment exam not only scored higher than both the state and national average, but registered an improvement over the previous year's district scores. That's significant because, nationally, SAT scores experienced the largest decline in more than 3 decades.
Partly that's being attributed to the fact that the newest version of the SAT is longer and covers more subject areas. Partly the decline in scores nationally may also be due to the fact that, for some reason, fewer students opted to take the test multiple times this year.
For whatever reason, however, it is encouraging to know that in this district, SAT reading scores improved by 5 points over last year, and math scores went up by 13 points.
In Alachua County, the mean reading score was 538 and the mean math score was 543. That compares to mean scores of 503 and 518 nationally, and scores of 496 and 497 statewide.
Of course, as the host community of the state's largest and most prestigious university, we expect our school district to excel at preparing students for college. This year's SAT scores are an indication that our expectations are being met. The larger challenge - that of preparing at-risk children who enter school not ready to learn for lifelong academic success - remains very much a work in progress.

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