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The Roar

The Student news source for West Shore Junior/Senior High School

The Roar

The Student news source for West Shore Junior/Senior High School

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Florida Fumble: State SAT scores plummet while school scores rise

Illustration by Darleen Ge

Universities are known to place SAT scores on a pedestal, trusting them to validate a student’s merit, according to U.S. News and World Report. But as college admissions have become more difficult, Florida students’ average performance on the exam has worsened.

In 2018, the average SAT score in the state was 1014. In 2021, it was 993. Last year, the average score in Florida decreased to 966, according to College Board. Based on SAT scores, Florida  ranked No. 46 out of 51 of the U.S. states and District of Columbia, according to Best Colleges.

College and Career Specialist Angela Feldbush said the drop in state SAT scores shouldn’t be a surprise.

“We’re continuing to see consequences of COVID,” she said. “That’s going to continue to bubble through for a while. Attendance rates are down, grades are down, kids are still struggling, and I think it’s going to take a while before we recover fully.”

Senior Kathryn Burgess said the scores plummeting should be a major concern for the state.

“The SAT is pushed so much for students who are going to college,” she said. “Personally, I think the [reason the scores are dropping is the] stress and pressure put on every senior.”

Despite Principal Rick Fleming and Assistant Principal Catherine Halbuer — two-thirds of the school administration — retiring at the end of this school year, Fleming said students shouldn’t be worried about new administration impacting test scores.

“I plan to sit with the new principal and [go] over a comprehensive list of our student body, rising seniors, staffing, our programs and Capstone,” he said. “Everything is going to take some time, but I’m going to give the new principal a very good understanding of where we were, where we went, where we are now and my recommendations for the future.”

Schoolwide, the average SAT score improved by 32 points from the previous year. During spring 2022, the average score was 1257, and the latest school average is 1289. Fleming said he attributes the improvement to SAT preparation the school provided over the summer and throughout the school year.

“Immediately upon emerging out of COVID, I asked Ms. Feldbush and Ms. Halbuer, ‘How can we make sure that our students are getting what they need for SAT prep?'” he said. “We didn’t want students to lose the opportunity to qualify for Bright Futures, and we targeted any student who was within 100 points of qualifying for the merit or the medallion and … made it a first priority to help them boost their score.”

Assistant Principal Glenn Webb said the rigorous courses students are encouraged to take improves the school’s average.

“Our participation in the AP program, and particularly the Capstone program, is helping make healthier, more well-rounded students,” he said. “The skills they’re practicing and learning how to utilize are beneficial across the board. Additionally, our students and families are one of the biggest factors [improving overall scores] since they take their education seriously.”

Testing Coordinator Maria Hedrick said she believes the quality of West Shore students prevented a major academic decline during and after the pandemic.

“A lot of the students were coming to school [during the pandemic], and even a lot of the students who were at home still wanted to learn and improve,” she said.

In 2018 and 2023, more than 98 percent of high school seniors took the SAT, according to the Florida Department of Education. Algebra teacher Patrick Pittenger said he thinks the high participation rate is the reason the state’s scores rank low.

“We get students that are taking the test that may not necessarily have a college-bound mindset, so that tends to pull the average down a little bit,” he said.

Feldbush said the environment of West Shore causes it to be an outlier compared to the rest of the state.

“We have a smaller sample size, better classes and some really strong kids academically right now,” Feldbush said. “It’s hard to judge a statewide trend based upon one class at West Shore.”


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About the Contributor
Elena Konicki
Elena Konicki, Staff Writer
I’m a first-year sophomore on the "Roar". With all the stress stemming from the school year, writing takes my mind off of the myriad assignments I have due. The "Roar" is a wonderful outlet for me to spread news, opinions, and implications of current events. This is my second year playing JV volleyball for the school. This year I’m hosting Mock Trial Team, and I couldn’t be more excited!