Rockville’s Average SAT Performance Improves Most in County

College+test+prep+teacher+Anne+Ehlers+assists+senior+Doug+Trach+with+SAT+practice+questions.+The+course+helps+prepare+students+for+all+sections+of+the+SAT%3A+critical+reading%2C+math+and+writing.+--Adam+Bensimhon

College test prep teacher Anne Ehlers assists senior Doug Trach with SAT practice questions. The course helps prepare students for all sections of the SAT: critical reading, math and writing. --Adam Bensimhon

College test prep teacher Anne Ehlers assists senior Doug Trach with SAT practice questions. The course helps prepare students for all sections of the SAT: critical reading, math and writing. --Adam Bensimhon
College test prep teacher Anne Ehlers assists senior Doug Trach with SAT practice questions. The course helps prepare students for all sections of the SAT: critical reading, math and writing. –Adam Bensimhon

With a 57 point increase, RHSa�� average SAT score for the graduating class of 2013 improved the most out of 25 Montgomery County high schools, reaching 1,582 on a 2,400 scale. SAT participation and performance among graduates who received free and reduced-price meals also increased.

A staff SAT team of teachers from all of the academic departments, including counseling and administration, was one of the factors that led to RHSa�� improvements. The team, which has been an ongoing initiative at RHS for years, was led last year by math teacher Kurt Kohler.

Kohler looked at the PSAT or SAT scores of last year’s seniors and grouped them into two categories: above 1,650 a�� which is what MCPS deems “college ready” a�� or between 1,250 and 1,650. The team focused on students in the latter category.

“We assigned each student to a teacher. And then that teacher was like their fairy godmother of SATs,” Kohler said. “So we made sure that they knew when the next SAT was, that they signed up for at least one SAT, and then we just checked their progress a�� whether it was a Kaplan course or Collegeboard.org. We just made sure that everyone was at least preparing themselves in some way, shape or form.”

By increasing SAT participation through one-on-one interaction with students, the team may have also been a factor in the performance improvement of students who receive free and reduced-price meals.

“I think we opened more kids’ eyes to taking the SAT a�� that it is a viable option,” Kohler said. “This might have been the first time that any of them have heard of the SAT, seen the SAT, knew what to do for the SAT. Instead of going in blind a�� they had some preparation.”

A college test prep class is offered at RHS to help prepare students for the SAT or ACT. The class, taught by English teacher Anne Ehlers, features diagnostic tests and in-depth practice with each SAT section: writing, critical reading and math. By the end of the course, students typically improve their scores by an average of 300 points, said Ehlers.

“We do a lot of work where kids will talk to each other and explain the problems to each other, which is really useful,” Ehlers said. “What makes the right answer right is a huge thing.”

Senior Meir Punzalan, who completed a prep course at Montgomery College, took the SAT Oct. 5 and was pleased with the various study tools he was offered at RHS. “I felt that there were resources available considering how there’s an SAT prep class offered in the school and students can borrow SAT prep books from the media center,” Punzalan said.

While the school’s SAT average has shown an upward trend, it is still behind the county’s average score of 1,651. The high school with the highest overall SAT score was Walt Whitman HS, which averaged an astonishing 1,901.

“This was the third year in a row that some [staff] had been on the team, so they knew what to expect, they knew what conversations to have with the kids [and] they knew what the best resources were,” Kohler said. “So I had a lot of help because I had a great team that worked with me.”

With the continuation of RHSa�� SAT team, which will be led by Assistant Principal Bradley Rohner this year, teachers hope students will be one step closer to raising the school average yet again.

“There was a lot more one-on-one connection with students is what I’m being told from the staff that were here last year. And we’re continuing that this year and taking it to the next level,” Principal Billie-Jean Bensen said.