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Six School Districts Register Improved SAT Scores

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Scholastic Aptitude Test scores in six Ventura County school districts improved in 1990-91, in contrast to a nationwide decline in verbal and math results, officials said Tuesday.

SAT scores were up in Simi Valley, Ventura, Moorpark and Santa Paula, officials from school districts in those cities said. Math scores also rose in Thousand Oaks, but verbal results remained the same. In Ojai, verbal scores rose, but math scores declined two points.

In the Santa Paula Union High School District, which has some of the lowest scores in Ventura County, students improved 26 points on the verbal portion of the test, from 386 in 1989-90 to 412 last year. Santa Paula High math scores also rose six points to 444.

Figures released by the College Board earlier this week showed that the average math score in California was 482 in 1990-91, down two points from the previous year. The average verbal score was 415, a four-point decline from the previous year.

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The national average math score was 474 and the average verbal score was 422.

The test, which is scored on a scale of 200 to 800 points, is used by colleges nationwide as a measure of aptitude for college. More than 1 million students took the 2 1/2-hour test last school year.

Robert Fisher, principal of Santa Paula High, said efforts by teachers to emphasize and increase students’ skills in math and reading have helped boost scores in Santa Paula, where 32 students took the test last school year.

“We have a long way to go, but at least we’re going in the right direction,” Fisher said.

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At five other districts countywide, both math and verbal scores were higher than the national and state averages.

In Simi Valley, where 387 students took the test, scores rose by three points on the verbal portion of the test to 425, and by four points in math over the previous year to 494, said Robert Isenberg, director of programs and testing.

However, the problem with comparing last school year’s scores with 1989-90 scores is that senior classes--and average levels of student ability--change from year to year, Isenberg said.

In the Ventura Unified district, scores rose seven points on the verbal portion, to 457, and increased by eight points in math, to 510. However, officials said they are concerned because only about one-third of the senior class took the test.

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“For this district, I would hope more kids would be taking it,” said Arlene Miro, director of administrative services. “We have to look at the goal that all kids have the potential to get into college, and we should be treating them as such.”

In the Moorpark Unified district, math scores jumped 22 points, and verbal scores increased 16 points.

A Moorpark High School counselor attributed improving SAT scores in that growing district to a steady influx of college-educated, middle-class families who have high expectations for their children.

“The number of kids taking college-prep courses and going on to four-year universities was not nearly so great a few years ago as it is now,” said senior counselor Andi Mallen.

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In the Ojai Unified School District, teachers have placed a greater emphasis on basic reading and math skills beginning in elementary school, and it is paying off, said Assistant Supt. Pamela Martens.

“The thing that works best is to have kids read, write and do math,” Martens said. “We’ve been doing a lot of that.”

Officials in the Oak Park Unified School District said they had not received scores. Oxnard Union High School District officials said they will not release scores for the six-school district until mid-September.

A Fillmore High School official was not available for comment.

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Selected County SAT Scores

1989-90 1990-91 Math Verbal Math Verbal Conejo Valley Unified 525 455 531 455 Moorpark Unified 466 408 488 424 Ojai Unified 504 449 502 455 Santa Paula Union 438 386 444 412 Simi Valley Unified 490 422 494 425 Ventura Unified 502 450 510 457

Source: School districts


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