AT prioritizes SAT scores in light of troubling data

The SAT is an exam taken by all AT students as a measure of college readiness but recently released exam scores have shown a worrying success rate for AT students.

Within Dupage County, there are a total of 23 public high schools, all of which take the SAT and other standardized exams. Recently released SAT scores from this past year have shown that 6 in 10 schools throughout Dupage County had more students fail than pass in the English portion of the exam. 

Within AT concern has risen by both administration and parents when statistics from all 23 DuPage county schools showed that AT had the lowest scores on the English portion of the SAT. 

Of the 1,906 students who took English exams at AT in 2022, a total of 86 percent of students failed the English portion of the SAT, which is an increased failure rate of 15 percent from 2021. 

This scoring by students on the SAT has caused administration to look at ways to better prepare students when it comes to both the PSAT and the SAT. The school has adopted some new strategies in addition to what they have previously done to help students with the SAT such as handing out PSAT prep booklets and offering SAT prep courses for students. 

“As students are aware we handed out their PSAT test booklets and scores to them during ATR,” said AT principal Jack Andrews. “Our teachers have started using these and other materials in class to prepare students for the coming test in April. We also offer SAT prep courses which are available to students.” 

However, in light of the recently released SAT scores, the school plans to do more involving the SAT by incorporating SAT style questions and activities into students’ regular weekly curriculum. 

“After meeting with department heads this past week they have explained how the teachers in their departments plan on incorporating warm ups, bell ringers, exit slips, full lessons, etc. into their lesson plans to help prepare students even more in specific areas. We are expecting above average College Board growth during the April testing, which unfortunately scores will not be in until the end of May or June,” said Andrews. 

The school plans to take a route of educating students on what PSAT and SAT scores can do for them to help students understand why it is important, explaining how SAT scores can help students when it comes to both college and entering the workforce. 

“We want to talk about educating our students. PSAT/SAT scores can open doors not only for college but for those going straight into their careers,” said Andrews. “For example, some work licensures can use SAT scores to confirm proficiency rather than making the employee take another test to prove proficiency. For colleges, same thing but you may not need to take certain classes, exams, or other proficiency checks if your scores meet their standards.”

AT has begun to look at final exams, editing their weight and content, with changes possibly taking place as soon as this semester. Though this raises the question of changing and potentially removing final exams, when they are the closest thing that we have to a SAT style test. 

Administration is  looking at the final exam the same way under the same critical lens that they are looking at the SAT. Evaluating students, individual and overall score to help show growth from classes. 

“Our departments are currently putting that same critical eye on exams to make sure the 20% weights, structure of their finals, etc. are truly evaluating students’ proficiency levels,” said Andrews. 

Administration evaluates the SAT scores and critically looks at them to see where growth between students has happened. Looking for individual growth as well as the overall performance between students of that grade level. They can take these scores to see expected score increases between the fall and spring, and score decreases which they can then come up with ways to help students improve. 

“I think it is important for us to look at SAT/PSAT scores because it allows us an opportunity to reflect on where our students are currently at compared to their peers in the State of Illinois and elsewhere,” said Andrews. “When looking at the scores we have to look at them with a critical eye and look for successes and areas of improvement. For example, when we look at growth from Spring PSAT to Fall PSAT for a few classes we see students making expected growth according to College Board standards. This is a good thing. When we look at overall percent proficiency we see lower scores than expected so we need to analyze this further. This is an area of improvement.”

However, this is not a unique experience for just AT or Dupage County in general, statewide 70 percent of students in public high schools are shown to have failed the English portion of the SAT. These low success rates for students in the SAT across Illinois have caused schools to need to find new ways to prepare students for the PSAT and the SAT. 

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