Guilford students show gains on SAT, ACT

Achievement gap still a concern
Oct. 09, 2013 @ 07:15 PM

Guilford County Schools’ class of 2013 made some headway in its SAT and ACT scores, but the Board of Education is more concerned with the breakdown of performance in different subgroups.
For the SAT, African-Americans, who make up about 37 percent of the district’s SAT test takers, made strides from 2012 to 2013. On the critical reading section, black students increased 14 points from 410 to 424. On the math section, black students increased three points from 421 to 424 and showed an increase on the writing section of 11 points from 395 to 406.
“Gains for the district in 2013 can be directly attributed to the African-American gains,” said Dana Wrights, chief accountability and research officer for GCS.
African-American students are in line with state scores in reading and writing but below state and national averages in math.
Other subgroups of students tempered the results for the district. White students dropped two points in critical reading from 535 to 533, five points in math from 544 to 539 and one point in writing from 516 to 515. White students in the district are above state and national averages.
Asian students tempered GCS gains event further with a 15-point drop in critical reading, a nine-point drop in math and a 15-point drop in writing. Asian students in the district are below state and national averages by at least 60 points in each subtest.

ACT
Because of the sharp increase in the number of students in the county and the state that took the ACT (last year 746 seniors took the test while this year, 4,993 did), previous-year data is not the appropriate comparison, but the class of 2013 can be compared to state and national data at the ACT benchmarks.
ACT’s College Readiness Benchmark scores are scores that reflect at least a 50 percent chance of achieving a B or better or at least a 75 percent chance of achieving a C or better in an entry-level credit-bearing college course.
In the English section, 41 percent of students reached the benchmark score, 32 percent in math, 29 percent in reading and 22 percent in science.
The largest subgroups in the district — white, black, Hispanic and Asian — had varying degrees of success with the ACT.
Sixty-five percent of white students met the benchmark score of 18 in English. For black students, 20 percent reached the benchmark in English, 30 percent of Hispanics and 37 percent of Asians.
In math, 52 percent of white students met the benchmark score of 22, 13 percent of black students, 20 percent of Hispanic students and 42 of Asian students.
In reading, 49 percent of white students met the benchmark score of 22, 11 percent of black students, 19 percent of Hispanic students and 24 percent of Asian students.
In science, 39 percent of whites, 6 percent of blacks, 14 percent of Hispanics and 24 percent of Asians met the benchmark score of 23.
The minimum composite score accepted by colleges and universities in the University of North Carolina system is 17. Fifty-six percent of GCS students met that minimum.
Beth Folger, chief academic officer for GCS, gave a startling statistic that put some board members on edge.
“Our African-American students who took Core, which is a more rigorous course of study, still scored lower than our white students who did not take Core,” Folger said.
Fifty-two percent of black students and 75 percent of white students reported that they have enrolled in the four English classes and three science, math and history classes that make up Core.
The 25 percent of white students that are not enrolled in the advanced courses do better on the ACT than the 52 percent of African-American students that are enrolled in the advanced courses.
Board Chairman Alan Duncan and Board member Deena Hayes said something more has to happen to close the achievement gap.
“This is so normal, it doesn’t bother us like it should,” Hayes said.
Duncan agreed that something has to be done.
“We need to have a strategy that is actually connected to something, because right now we don’t,” Duncan said.
Folger said the staff will continue looking at teacher effectiveness and scheduling, along with programs the district already has in place that deal with addressing the gap.
jhowse@hpe.com | 888-3617