After two years of improvements on the SAT college entrance exam, the Douglas County School System took a step back in 2013, data released Thursday by the Georgia Department of Education showed.

Douglas County students averaged a 1,338 on the test in 2013, down 35 points from the 1,373 averaged by students in the system in 2012. The total is the composite of scores on the critical reading, math and writing sections.

“We are certainly disappointed to see a decline in our scores after seeing a substantial increase last year, but each year stands alone as it is a different group of test takers,” said Dr. Gordon Pritz, Superintendent of the Douglas County School System.

“The data will be carefully reviewed to determine if there are other measures we need to take to address this over time. We will look at specific efforts being made at our high schools to impact SAT and ACT scores and determine if there is more we can do. With increased cuts to our budget from the state it makes it increasingly difficult to provide the same level of service in all areas that we have in the past and this can begin to manifest itself in other areas of student achievement.”

Alexander had the top average among local schools with a 1,414, a slight decline of four points from 2012. Douglas County High was second with an average of 1,404, up three points from the year before.

However, the other three county high schools saw drops of more than 20 points from the year before.

Chapel Hill High went from an average of 1,384 last year to a 1,358 in 2013. New Manchester High dropped from a 1,276 in 2012 to a 1,247 in 2013. And Lithia Springs High saw its average score drop to from a 1,264 last year to a 1,227 in 2013.

At Alexander, 195 students took the SAT and the school had district-high scores in reading (486) and writing (463).

Douglas County had a district-high 252 test takers and led the county with a 466 average on the math section.

Local scores continue to lag the state and national averages by over 100 points. Georgia students scored an overall 1,452 compared to the national average of 1,498.

The state average was down one point from last year’s 1,453.

Seventy-five percent of Georgia’s 2013 senior class took the SAT – more than 72,000 students – compared to the national participation rate of 43 percent. Georgia has the ninth highest participation rate in the nation. States with higher participation rates typically see lower average scores on the test and often see dips when the number of students taking the exam increases.

Last year, Georgia’s SAT score increased seven points, even as the nation lost ground on the test.

“While we didn’t see the same gains this year that we did in 2012, I am proud that our students held their ground on the SAT,” State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge said. “We expect to see even better scores in the coming years as students become more engaged in their high school classes under our Career Pathways/Clusters initiative.”

The Georgia Department of Education points out other factors that were notable from this year’s SAT scores:

• 36 percent of SAT takers in the Georgia class 2013 met the SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark, which Barge said is too low and indicates students have to be “prepared more quickly for the world that awaits them after high school.”

• The largest percentage of minority students ever participated in the SAT in Georgia this year. Of the state’s 2013 college-bound seniors who took the SAT, 46 percent (33,243 students) were minority students, up from 43 percent (28,574 students) in the class of 2009.

The top 10 institutions receiving scores from Georgia SAT takers are as follows: University of Georgia, Georgia Southern University, Georgia State University, Kennesaw State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Valdosta State University, University of West Georgia, Georgia College and State University, University of North Georgia and Auburn University.

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