Kanawha County 11th graders in public schools averaged a 961 on the SAT when they took it during a school day last school year, according to a county school system official.
Counseling and Testing Director Jon Duffy said the average on the SAT School Day Test across West Virginia was 928, and the comparable international average was 973.
But Kanawha juniors’ average score was still down from 976 in the school year before last. Duffy’s presentation to the county Board of Education Thursday didn’t note this.
On the evidence-based reading and writing section, Kanawha juniors averaged a 499 in the 2017-18 school year and a 494 in the 2018-19 school year.
On the other section, math, they averaged a 476 in the 2017-18 school year and a 467 in the 2018-19 school year.
For the past two school years, West Virginia has used the college entrance exam as its standardized test for juniors in public schools. The state pays for the test to be free.
Duffy said these SAT School Day Test results don’t include students who take the SAT on weekends. Non-public and public school students with enough money can pay College Board, the test’s provider, to take the test multiple times, letting richer kids possibly increase their scores.
Duffy said the vast majority, if not all, of the students included in the international average were required, like in West Virginia, to take the exam by their state or school system, and the international average is only from the tests taken on school days.
While Duffy provided the statewide average figure, the state Department of Education hasn’t yet provided that number nor the averages for other counties. The state released last month only the percentage of juniors it deemed at least “proficient” on the SAT’s sections, not the average actual scores.
The Gazette-Mail has filed an open records request for those mean scores.
Kanawha’s average SAT score drop came despite the percentage of the county’s juniors deemed at least proficient in math staying roughly the same, at 29 percent, and despite the percentage deemed at least proficient in reading and writing growing from 55 percent to 60 percent.
“My understanding is we may have had lower scores ... in our non-proficient group of students that slightly lowered the mean scores of the overall group,” Duffy said. “However, we still had a higher percentage of overall grade 11 testers who met the proficiency score.”
The highest possible score on the SAT is 1600.
To earn the state’s Promise Scholarship, a student, alongside meeting other requirements, must score at least 520 in math and 530 on evidence-based reading and writing and an 1100 combined, so a student must go above the minimum in either math or the reading and writing section.
To get into West Virginia University’s Morgantown campus, in-state high school students must get at least a 990 on both sections combined.
If students can afford to pay to take the SAT more times than the free test they’re given as juniors, they can combine their best scores on different sections across multiple times taking the test to meet the WVU minimum. For Promise eligibility, you can try the SAT multiple times if you can afford it, but can only submit scores from one sitting.
Also Thursday, the school board unanimously approved paying Kentucky-based Worldwide Equipment Inc. about $1.2 million for 12 buses and paying Blue Bird Bus Sales of West Virginia about $400,000 for three buses.
Brette Fraley, the school system’s transportation director, said the companies selling the buses were chosen by the school system from among the statewide contract holders. He said the state selected these companies through a bidding process.