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Schools improve on SATs
Gwinnett scores rise; state worse

LAWRENCEVILLE - While Georgia high school students performed worse on the SAT than their predecessors for the third year in a row, Gwinnett County Public Schools' average composite score rose by five points.

The school district's mean score of 1,526 is 66 points above the state average and 17 points above the national average, according to data released Tuesday.

Composite scores at nine Gwinnett schools - Collins Hill High, Dacula High, Duluth High, Grayson High, Meadowcreek High, Mill Creek High, North Gwinnett High, Peachtree Ridge High

and South Gwinnett High - improved, but averages at other Gwinnett high schools, Buford High, Apalachee High and Winder-Barrow High fell.

Georgia's steady drop in scores started in 2006, when the average score was 1,477 out of a possible 2,400. The following year, it dropped to 1,472, and then down to 1,466 last year. The state's mean score this year was 1,460.

The biggest decline for the state was in writing, where test takers scored 479, compared to 483 last year. In math, Georgia students scored 491, a two-point drop from 2008. The critical reading score this year was 490, compared to 491 last year.

'It's not the numbers I wanted to see, obviously,' state schools Superintendent Kathy Cox said.

In Gwinnett, math and writing scores both increased by two points to 524 and 497, respectively. The critical reading score increased one point to 505.

At Buford High, the critical reading score dropped 16 points to 481, and the writing score dropped nine points to 477. The math score - 497 - was one point lower than last year.

Buford High has also seen a decrease in the number of students taking the SAT, but the number taking the ACT has increased. This year's average ACT score of 21.5 was the highest in school

history.

In Barrow County, fewer students took the SAT this year, but the number of black students taking the test increased. Overall, the average score for black students increased by 22 points from the previous year and the performance of black students in Barrow was higher than the state and national scores for the same group of students, according to a news release.

The state's black and Hispanic students taking the SAT continued to outperform the national average score for those groups.

Hispanic students in Georgia scored 1,412, which is 66 points higher than the national average score for Hispanics. For black students, this year's score was 1,274 - 10 points higher than the national average score for that group.

Still, those groups lagged behind their white peers and even lost ground from 2006. Hispanics scored 136 points below their white peers, and blacks saw a 274-point gap.

The number of Georgia students taking the test remained relatively flat at about 63,000 this year. That includes nearly 46,000 high school seniors, or about 71 percent of graduating students. Typically, states with larger pools of test takers fare worse in their scores.

A higher percentage of students generally take the SAT in Gwinnett than in the state or nation. Preliminary figures indicate about 73 percent of Gwinnett seniors took the test.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

SideBar: At a glance

· For the third year in a row, Georgia high school students performed worse on the SAT than their predecessors. The state's mean score was 1,460, a six-point drop since last year.

· Gwinnett County Public Schools' average composite SAT score rose five points to 1,526 - 17 points higher than the national average of 1,509 and 66 points higher than the state average.

· Buford High's composite score dropped 26 points to 1,455.

· Barrow County Schools' average dropped 46 points to 1,431.