Marietta City Schools’ SAT scores dropped 16 points from last year, from 1072 to 1056, the Georgia Department of Education reports.
In the neighboring Cobb County School District, SATs went up seven points over last year to 1114, that district announced last week.
The SAT includes a verbal and writing section, each with a maximum of 800 points for a combined maximum score of 1600. Marietta’s average verbal score was 536, and in math, students scored an average of 520.
This year, 293 Marietta City Schools students took the test, compared with 251 last year, an increase of 16.7%.
Superintendent Grant Rivera said the test score decline can be attributed to that participation increase, which he said came about because Marietta High School is working to encourage students who otherwise wouldn’t take the test to do so. He said that encouragement includes hiring college advisers and partnering with a private tutoring company called Applerouth.
“One of our priorities in our district strategic plan is college access,” Rivera said. “We have been extremely interested in supporting students who may have thought college wasn’t for them. And we knew as we started offering this SAT-ACT prep class during the school day as well as online resources to 8th through 12th graders, we knew we were going to have an increase in participation, and that was our goal all along. But from a research and historic perspective, we knew when we increased participation, we knew there was a chance our score would decrease.”
MHS Principal Keith Ball said over two-thirds of Marietta High seniors sat for either the SAT or ACT last year.
“Access and participation for all students is our priority knowing that either test is part of the college admissions process,” he said. “Through our partnership with Applerouth, and additional school-sponsored SAT and ACT Boot Camps, we are eager to see our scores improve.”
Rivera said the plan to encourage more test takers has been a success in ways other than test scores. He said the percentage of the MHS class of 2019 enrolled in a college or university jumped 7% over the previous year to 59%.
Like Ball, Rivera also predicted the emphasis on college preparation will lead to higher scores in the long term.
“My expectation over time is we will have significant gains in SATs,” he said. “That doesn’t happen year one.”
Marietta City Schools is not the only district to see its scores deflate from last year – Georgia’s public school students as a whole saw their average score go down from 1054 to 1048, and nationwide, scores fell from 1049 to 1039 among public school students.