Oregon sees SAT scores for math decline

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EUGENE, Ore. Oregon's class of 2013 had the lowest math SAT scores of any class in the last 12 years.

The average SAT math score in Oregon public schools was 520.

The Oregon Department of Education is still reviewing the data, according to communications director Crystal Greene.

Oregon students continue to do better on the SATs than national average of 503 on math.

But Oregon students have done progressively worse in math since 2006. Nationally, student performance stagnated.

This 2013 group of graduates scored 4 points lower than their peers the year before - and 12 points lower than 2006 Oregon graduates.

And the top Oregon students do not do as well as their peers nationally. Only 5 percent of students in the state scored a 700 or better. Across the country, 7 percent of students tested in that range.

Local teachers and tutors have several ideas as to why scores are dropping.

Theresa Hilkey has been teaching at Churchill High School in Eugene for a decade. She said the class of 2013 saw three different curricula, which caused gaps in their knowledge base.

"This group of kids that just graduated that we're talking about, the standards have changed 3 times since they've been enrolled in school," she said. "We went from Oregon state standards to our focal points to the common core, so there's gaps."

Hilkey also points to growing class size as a possible cause of the drop.

Many students know they won't get immediate, personalized feedback, so just want to "get things done," without digesting the why or fully grasping the concepts, she said.

"You have a class of 45 kids and you're not able to check in with every kid and see how they're homework went. I think they've gotten in a pattern of 'I just have to get it done," Hikey said.

The lack of interest in the "why" is something that Austin Curtis, Education Director of Sylvan Learning Center in Eugene, also notices.

"'What's the SAT?' I ask that question whenever I teach the course. It's one of the first things. They always answer, 'It's just to get into college,' and they don't recognize why it's important and the value behind it," Curtis said.

Curtis also saod teachers are increasingly pressured to get through their curriculums, and students are not able to retain the information when it's passed over so quickly.
He says many kids come into Sylvan with huge amounts of test anxiety, but haven't learned how to manage it.

He said schools are emphasizing the importance of passing the test, without providing kids with the strategies to feel successful.