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Improving SAT scores on Plum school officials' agenda

| Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

Plum School District officials want students to score higher than the national average on the SAT.

With that goal in mind, high school staff members are trying to provide students with resources they need to be successful on the college-entrance exam that measures math, verbal and writing skills.

The average score for Plum High School students taking the SAT over the past several years has been around 1480.

The total possible score is 2400, and the national average is about 1500, according to the College Board, which administers the test.

High School Principal Ryan Kociela said he wants Plum students to score higher than the national average.

“We would like (the scores) to be above 1500 consistently,” Kociela said. “We like to be above average in everything we do, and the SAT is no exception.”

To that end, high school staff has implemented an action plan for students.

The steps include:

• Analyzing PSAT and SAT test performance data. The PSAT is a similar exam taken before the SAT.

• Interviewing students to identify their perception of the exam and preparations for it.

• Familiarizing students with the format of the exam.

• Identifying ways to incorporate the SAT format into current courses and investigating ways to incorporate components of the exam into the daily routine with the use of words of the day, problems of the day and questions of the day.

• Creating a website for parents and students.

• Giving students practice tests and study resources.

• Analyzing the current after-school SAT prep program.

• Going over PSAT information with sophomores.

• Providing vocabulary instruction at both the high school and junior high.

The SAT action plan is on the district's website —

Kociela said carrying out the steps in the plan has given students more of an awareness of the SAT.

“Kids are becoming more familiar with the test and understanding the importance of the test,” Kociela said. “It is giving them an understanding and a realization of what they are taking.”

Kociela said he expects to see results in the next couple of years.

Plum School Board member Michele Gallagher, education committee chairman, said she wants to ensure that current freshmen and sophomores are ready for the redesigned SAT that will be given starting with the spring of 2016. The new SAT will have a score scale of 1600 with a separate score for the essay, according to the College Board.

Gallagher said she is pleased by efforts to make students more aware of the components of the test and its importance.

Plum School Board President said Sal Colella thinks the effort will produce results.

“We want to be more competitive on SAT scores,” Colella said. “The bottom line is we realize we need to improve (the scores), and we will moving forward.”

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8753 or

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