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Test scores give mixed assessment

Tim Willert

College-bound students from John Burroughs High School who took the

2003 Scholastic Assessment Test scored 24 points lower on the math

portion of the test than in 2002, and Principal Emilio Urioste is not

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happy about it.

“It concerns me, because math is an area that we have invested

some time in,” Urioste said this week. “There’s a concern that we

need to ... take another look at our assessment tools to make sure we

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are providing kids with what they need to be successful on those

standardized assessments.”

At Burroughs, 188 students took the SAT test in 2003, scoring an

average of 488 on the math portion, compared to 512 last year. Scores

also dipped slightly in the verbal portion, with students earning a

507 average compared to 512 last year.

The maximum overall score on the SAT -- the most widely taken

college entrance exam -- is 1,600, or 800 on each of the two

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sections. Results of the 2003 test, which measures verbal and

mathematical reasoning skills, were released this week by the College

Board.

Urioste didn’t rule out the possibility of making changes, if

necessary, to boost math scores.

“If we determine through our analysis that we have some students

who need some intensive care in terms of math, then I may need to sit

down and make some reassignments,” he said.

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At Burbank High School, 243 students who took the test averaged

500 for the verbal portion and 530 for math, compared to average

scores of 499 for verbal and 538 for math in 2002.

Mike Bertram, Burbank High’s assistant principal of education,

called the test scores “solid,” but said they aren’t reflective of

the school because not every student is tested.

“There aren’t any red flags here,” Bertram said. “Overall, I think

we’re looking at a positive picture.”

While she isn’t thrilled by the drop off in Burroughs High math

scores, Alexis Sheehy, director of secondary education for the

Burbank Unified School District, said there isn’t cause for

“excessive concern.

“When you look at the trend, the achievement has been stable,”

Sheehy said. “I think it’s right where we would expect it to be.”

Nationally, averages climbed three points on both sections of the

test, to 519 for math and 507 for verbal. California students also

averaged 519 for math, a jump of two points from the previous year.

But despite a three-point improvement from 2002, the state’s average

in the verbal section was 499.

District and school administrators agree that more emphasis should

be placed on getting a higher percentage of students to take the

test, along with SAT preparatory classes.

“There’s a lot of reasoning here, a lot of logic,” Urioste said of

the test. “If this isn’t the type of assessment a student has had to

deal with in the past, it can be intimidating.”

Bertram said Burroughs will offer four SAT test dates during the

upcoming school year, beginning next month.

Said Sheehy: “What we really want to see is a larger percentage of

students taking the test. When you have more students interested in

taking the test, you have more students interested in college.”


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