Bryan County’s average SAT score this year dipped by 20 points from last year, but still remained above the state average.
The 379 high school students in Bryan County who took the SAT in 2015 had a mean score of 1470, according to the Georgia Department of Education. The state average increased by five points, to 1450.
“Bryan County Schools continues to be a top performer in the state,” Superintendent Paul Brooksher said. “The system ranked 23rd out of the 180 school districts in Georgia with a combined score of 1470.”
Bryan County students posted mean scores of 498 in critical reading, 493 in math and 479 in writing out of a possible 800 in each category. Those were decreases of 11, 7 and 2 points, respectively, from last year on the test designed to predict college success.
The majority of the county’s SAT takers were from Richmond Hill High School, where 332 students scored a mean 504 in reading, 499 in math and 483 in writing for a total of 1,486. The school’s average score last year was 1504.
“Yes, I’m glad it’s above the state average, but truthfully what I’d like to see is a continual increase,” RHHS Principal Debi McNeal said.
At Bryan County High School, 47 test takers averaged 459 in reading, 448 in math and 451 in writing for a combined 1358 — down from 1402 in 2014.
“BCHS continues to work to improve all areas of instruction, which should increase overall SAT scores,” Principal Crystal Morales said.
Despite its 20-point decrease, Bryan County again this year was southeast Georgia’s highest-scoring school system on the SAT. Bryan topped all 17 other school districts in the First District Regional Educational Service Agency, with the next-closest scores coming from Vidalia City Schools (1455), Camden County (1444), Effingham County (1422) and Glynn County (1419).
“I’m proud that we outperformed all the local schools,” McNeal said. “So while we did see a decrease, Bryan County schools are at the top.”
However, McNeal has her goals set higher than exceeding the state and First District RESA averages. A focus on national assessments is part of Richmond Hill High’s school-improvement plan.
The national-average SAT score this year was 1490.
“It’s great that we’re doing better than the state of Georgia, but our kids probably 100 percent won’t stay in the state of Georgia,” she said. “I want to make sure they’re prepared for life outside.”
SAT prep at RHHS
Richmond Hill High School is its second year of offering an SAT preparation class as an elective during fall semester. The semester-long course is being taught this year by a math teacher along with a media specialist who has a background in English.
In addition, all ninth-graders at RHHS take the SAT practice test, the PSAT. The state provides funds for all 10th-graders in Georgia to take the PSAT, and Richmond Hill High uses money from the principal’s account for all of its freshmen to take the test as well.
“Taking the PSAT as a ninth-grader and then again as a 10th-grader not only gives us a predictor of how they might do on the SAT,” McNeal said, “it gives us AP (Advanced Placement) potential — which tells us, based on lots of data, how kids might do in the AP class.”
RHHS now has 18 different AP courses after offering only seven of them four years ago, according to McNeal. A common request she heard from students after becoming principal in 2013 was to provide more AP classes, she said.
Students “have really taken advantage of” the additional Advanced Placement courses, McNeal said. One example she cited is ninth-graders taking AP human geography.
“I feel like being in those classes gives them the opportunity to sit in front of a national test like (the SAT) and do well,” McNeal said. “That’s something colleges really look at — do your students have an opportunity to take Advanced Placement courses, and if they do, are they enrolling themselves in those?”
A look at the scores of 11th-graders taking the SAT indicates RHHS could be heading toward the consistency McNeal is seeking. The school’s mean score among juniors has risen steadily from 1556 in 2013 to 1589 last year and 1597 this year.
“What I do think is pretty fascinating is that the juniors who are taking it are showing a steady increase,” McNeal said. “That’s awesome. We’re doing something right.”
Local district scores
Bryan County 1470
Vidalia City 1455
Camden County 1444
Effingham County 1422
Glynn County 1419
Bulloch County 1375
Jeff Davis County 1367
Wayne County 1359
Appling County 1350
Liberty County 1344
Toombs County 1333
Tattnall County 1320
Candler County 1316
Long County 1301
Screven County 1284
Evans County 1273
McIntosh County 1273