Washington kids have SAT scores higher than the national average.
And Monroe students last year had SAT scores higher than the state, putting Monroe students well above the national average.
Out of a possible score of 800, in math Monroe kids scored 549 on average to the state’s 530 and the nation’s 514.
In critical reading, Monroe kids averaged 528, the state averaged 519, and the nation averaged 496.
And in writing, Monroe students got 517, the state’s students 503, and the nation’s students 488.
Several kids got very high scores; 24 students scored between 600 and 790 in math and 25 did the same in writing, with 14 students scoring within that range in all three subjects and 13 scoring in that range for two of three areas.
“We are getting a third of the students scoring really well, putting them in National Merit Scholar range,” said Assistant Superintendent of Monroe Public Schools Fran Mester last week.
Increased academic rigor, more kids taking advanced placement courses, and more kids deciding to take the SATs are some of the factors that lead to the district’s encouraging outcome, said Mester.
“I think it’s a reflection of increased rigor at the high school, with more honors and AP courses that are focused on getting kids career and college ready,” she said. “You spend more time on vocabulary, critical reading and thinking and comprehension, and those are the types of things that are measured on the SAT.”
The SAT is a college entrance exam accepted by most U.S. colleges, and is a way for colleges to make sure kids are ready for a heavier academic load, she said.
The efforts of one high school student may have made a large impact, as well.
Last year, Honors Society student Taylor Gese discussed with other society members the possibility of creating an SAT study club, in which students could tutor juniors on taking the test, which is taken during the junior year.
Gese then approached Monroe High School English teacher Stanton Giles about how to get the club off the ground.
Giles said it would take about 25 students signing up to make it work, and Gese was skeptical, but she and other seniors put together a lesson plan.
“We broke it up into verbal and math and we did a day on college prep and picking a college,” she said.
Response was overwhelming.
“Our first meeting, there were over 150 kids there,” said Gese. “We had to move them out to the pod, because we obviously couldn’t fit them in the classroom. We did six classes and it stayed that way the whole time.”
Gese herself is on an ambitious education track; she hopes to study media, culture and communication at New York University, a very competitive school, not to mention expensive. Tuition for one year is $46,000.
That SAT prep class was another factor that strengthened SAT performance, said district spokesperson Rosemary O’Neil, and next year, more study prep help will be available.
Last spring, the school board approved a budget item that allows for sophomores to take the PSAT, a pre-test, without charge to parents. Taking the PSAT can help students identify strengths and weaknesses with plenty of time to address them before taking the SAT.
Monroe is bucking a national trend; while national scores have fallen off slightly this year, Monroe’s have risen steadily since 2007.
“Clearly we’re improving,” said Monroe district superintendent Ken Hoover. “That’s good news for us.”