Students in Williamsburg-James City County Schools and York County outscored their state and national counterparts on last year’s Scholastic Aptitude Test.
SATs are used as part of college applications. Many high ranking colleges such as William and Mary and the University of Virginia require students to receive high scores on the test to be accepted.
Students can score between 400-1,600 points on the SAT. W-JCC students’ mean score was 1,133, York’s was 1,138. Nationally, the mean score was 1,049; statewide it was 1,110.
Katherine Worley, W-JCC assistant superintendent, said one contributing factor to students’ high scores is a lot of students in the district choose advanced placement or dual enrollment courses at Thomas Nelson Community College.
These classes give students a more rigorous and in-depth look at subjects, which could help them better understand subjects on the SAT.
In addition to in-classroom prep, Worley said Parent Teacher Student Associations have SAT prep sessions for students a couple Saturdays a year. For these sessions, the PTSAs bring in an outside organization to tutor students.
The national mean SAT score for reading and writing was 529. Statewide it was 563, in York it was 579 and in W-JCC it was 575. The W-JCC score remained about the same, with students earning a mean score of 576 in 2017.
Worley said one way W-JCC curriculum may be helping reading and writing SAT scores rise is that in high school English classrooms, vocabulary is often emphasized.
“You often hear teachers reference vocabulary words they use in class that they will see again on the SAT possibly,” Worley said.
The national mean SAT score for math was 520. For Virginia it was 547, for York County it was 560 and for W-JCC it was 558. Again, W-JCC’s score was about the same as in 2017, with that year’s mean score being 560.
While mostly the same as last year, W-JCC’s scores have mostly risen over the past four years. For example, the 2018 mean SAT math score was 28 points higher than in 2014.
One resource that can help with math SAT scores are practice questions. Melissa Bentley, accountability and assessment officer for W-JCC, said students can access a daily SAT question on their College Board account.
“Those are math and reading questions,” Bentley said. “I know my own son used that when he was at Jamestown (High School).”
In addition to rising scores, more W-JCC seniors took the SAT than in years past. In 2018, 574 seniors took the test compared to 534 seniors in 2015. In York, 738 seniors took the test this year; 679 took it in 2015
Even with resources provided by the district, Bentley said a big reason for the rising and steady SAT scores are students’ internal motivation.
“(Students) are really focused about doing really well on the test based on the school they want to get in(to),” Bentley said. “There are all kinds of online resources students will do on their own as well.”
Heymann can be reached by phone at 757-298-5828 or on Twitter at @HeymannAmelia.