Thursday, September 4, 2008

SAT scores at RKA slightly up to merely awful

by John DeSio

Riverdale Review, 09/04/2008

SAT scores at the Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy improved slightly last academic year, though they still fall short of the State and national averages.

The College Board, the company that administers the SAT, released the scores to the 2008 test this past week. Nationally students averaged 1017 on the test, 502 in reading and 515 in math.

RKA averaged a score of 923, with students averaging 468 in reading and 455 in math. Those numbers are marginally higher than last year's RKA average of 885, which was met through a reading score of 438 and a math score of 447.

RKA's scores were lower than the State average of 992. The State reading average is 488, and the State math average is 504.

Lori O'Mara, principal at the Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy, requested that questions regarding these scores be sent to her via email. As of press time, she had not responded to those questions.

A total of 108 students at RKA took the SAT last year, out of a graduating class of 130. Those students also averaged 461 on the writing portion of the test, which is given little weight by colleges.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz was glad to see that the scores had gone up but was extremely concerned that RKA was still far below the national average.

"I'm pleased that there was a significant increase in the reading scores," said Dinowitz. "But it is very unfortunate that RKA's scores are still far below the State and national averages."

Dinowitz added, "I would hope our students would not just meet the national average, but surpass it. We still need significant improvement."

Debbie Bowden, chairwoman of the education committee of Community Board #8, was just as cautious in her comments.

"I'm glad it is some improvement, but the improvement is too slight to get excited about," said Bowden. "We have to work harder."

The College Board also released RKA's results for other tests it administers. Seventy-seven students at the school took a total of 85 Advanced Placement tests, with 48 tests scored at a passing level of 3, 4 or 5. The statistics give no indication of what subjects those tests were in.

When it came to the PSAT, 123 sophomores took the test last year. Graded on a scale of 20 to 80, those students averaged a 40.8 in reading, 41.5 in math and 38.6 in writing. One hundred and twenty-two juniors also took the test, averaging a 40.6 in reading, 40.9 in math and 39.4 on the writing portion.

Dinowitz noted that these poor scores are not the product of any one individual, but are an indictment of the entire education system.

"It takes 12 years to develop scores this poor," said Dinowitz. "Our education system focuses on mediocrity, not high standards."

Other local schools did worse than RKA on last year's SAT. John F. Kennedy High School averaged a 368 in reading and 383 in math, for a total score of 751; M.S./H.S. 368/In-Tech Academy averaged 416 in reading and 418 in math, for a total score of 834; and DeWitt Clinton High School averaged 424 in reading and 437 in math, for a total of 861.

The two bright spots in The Bronx were the Bronx High School of Science and the High School of American Studies at Lehman College. Bronx Science averaged a 640 in reading and 684 in math, for a total of 1324. American Studies averaged 618 in reading and 633 in math, for a total of 1251.