Danielle Muntz

Manchester SAT scores improve, but highlight district weaknesses

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Manchester High School

Manchester High School

SAT college prep test scores for the state were recently released. Manchester High School (MHS) scores were were up, but MHS ranks right in the middle of Washtenaw county SAT scores. 1028 was the mean score for MHS juniors, with 75% college/career ready in evidence based reading and writing (ERW) and only 36.4% in math.

The 2015-16 School year saw the change from the ACT to the SAT as the standard test, as the administrators of the SAT, The College Board, won a 3-year contract with the state to run the SAT for the 11th grade Michigan Merit Exam. The 2015-16 school year also saw the implementation of a new SAT. All juniors are required to take the SAT, which is provided for free.

Compared with scores from nearby districts, MHS is again in the middle. Chelsea and Clinton both had a mean score above MHS, with Clinton’s reading proficiency below that of MHS. Chelsea ranked 27th in the state, with a mean score of 1151.5, ERW/math readiness at 89.9/67.7%. Falling below Manchester were Clinton at 1055 with ERW/math at 71.1/44.7%. Napoleon, 999.4, and Columbia Central, 1005.5.

Manchester’s 75% in ERW is well above the 60% state average, and in line with many schools in the county. The state average for math readiness is 37%, which is alarmingly low, and MHS falls just slightly below that benchmark at 36.4%. Overall, there is a marked improvement from the 2014-15 SAT scores for MHS. Between the 2014-15 and 2015-16 tests, MHS juniors improved strikingly from 39.2% to 75% in ERW. Math readiness also improved, although less dramatically, from 29.2% to 36.6%.

Some of this improvement is due to the efforts of MHS special education teacher Michelle Mrocko. “Since I work at the high school, I often heard students stressing about this test and wondered what I could provide that may help alleviate some of that angst. Our General Education staff had been providing some practice in class, but kids were saying they did not know what to expect.”

Michelle, with the help of her daughter’s Girl Scout troop, set up a full 5 hour practice SAT. Twenty-nine students took the practice exam.  Of the twenty-nine, twenty-seven improved their scores on the actual SAT. The students unanimously felt the long practice exam prepared them mentally for what to expect during the real test. “The payoff is their confidence and success on their future test,” said Michelle, who will provide the same service this year.

High school principal Kevin Mowrer recognizes the need for improvement in Math at MHS. “This summer, teachers worked their way through the math scores from the Pre-SAT (PSAT) 9, PSAT 10, and SAT to determine what areas of struggle the students encountered on last year’s test,” he said. “Teachers’ evaluations will be partially based on their ability to improve student mastery of the challenging areas from last year’s SAT and PSAT.”

SAT preparation will be embedded in the school day for Juniors. Mowrer added that the district is also reviewing the “scope and sequence of its math classes” to better prepare students for life after high school.

9-3-2016 editors note: This article originally misidentified Mrocko as the counselor instead of the special education teacher. 


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