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Pinellas SAT scores dip slightly again

For the second year, Pinellas County's scores slipped slightly in 1994 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test in both the verbal and math portions.

On the verbal portion, the district average dropped one point, from 426 to 425. On the math, it fell three points, from 484 to 481. Even with the slight decline, the scores were still above the state and national averages. Florida tied with Pennsylvania for 45th in the national rankings.

The two-year decline came after a year in which scores jumped. In 1992, Pinellas' scores were 430 for the verbal portion and 487 for the math. Those are the highest scores in the period from 1990 to 1994.

The SAT is taken by college-bound students nationwide and is an indicator of a student's potential success the first year in college, said Alex Epanchin, director of testing for the Pinellas County school district. For that reason, colleges use it to help select students. The highest score possible is 1,600: 800 each on the verbal and math portions.

St. Petersburg High School had the highest scores among district high schools, with 485 for verbal and 531 for math. St. Petersburg High is the home of the prestigious International Baccalaureate program for accelerated learners. Pinellas Park High School had the lowest scores: 377 for verbal and 444 for math.

Epanchin said the scores are not an indication of how efficiently schools, or teachers, teach.

"I think everybody leaps to that conclusion," Epanchin said. "I think that's really stretching it."

The problem with using the test to judge teaching quality, he said, is that only a few students take the test. Some schools or districts may dissuade any but high achieving students from taking the test, while others allow any student to take the test. That can alter the overall results, he said. The selective district or school probably will have higher scores than the non-selective one.

A true measure of a school's quality is "elusive," Epanchin said.

"In an ideal world, (the measure) would be whether or not the kids who have gone through your system get what they're after," he said.

That means, he said, people who want to work at a fast food restaurant get to do that, and those who want to go to college manage that.

"It's not an easy answer," Epanchin said.

The district also had results from the other college entrance exam, the American College Test, which fewer Pinellas students take.

The district score for that test climbed slightly, to 21.8 from 21.7. That is a point higher than the state and national average of 20.8. There was no state-by-state comparison for that test.

_ Information from Times files was used in this report.

ACT SCORES

Composite Seniors

Scores Tested

Pinellas '94 21.8 1,308

Pinellas '93 21.7 1,273

Florida '94 20.8 34,528

Florida '93 20.7 33,775

National '94 20.8 891,714

National '93 20.7 875,603

SAT SCORES

Seniors Total Total

School

Tested Verbal Math

Pinellas '94 425 481

2,325

Pinellas '93 426 484

2,275

Florida '94 413 466

50,613

Florida '93 416 466

49,498

National '94 423 479

1,050,386

National '93 424 478

1,044,465

1994 SAT SCORES

Total Total Seniors

School Verbal Math Tested

Boca Ciega 413 463 96

Clearwater 424 483 181

Countryside 422 484 268

Dixie Hollins 388 457 99

Dunedin 428 488 138

East Lake 431 487 234

Gibbs 415 453 97

Lakewood 420 482 154

Largo 418 476 122

Northeast 396 461 128

Osceola 418 467 97

Pinellas Park 377 444 114

St. Petersburg 485 531 123

Seminole 433 479 246

Tarpon Springs 439 493 139

Pinellas 425 481 2,325

State 413 466 50,613

National 423 479 1,050,386

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