August 5, 2013

Does School Attendance Affect SAT Scores?

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Terrell Saunders

Terrell Saunders

New Haven high schools with better attendance rates score higher on the SATs, according to records from the state Department of Education.

For example, Amistad High School recorded an attendance rate of 96.6 percent and scored a combined average of 1,280 on the SATs in 2011-12 academic year.

Terrell Saunders

Terrell Saunders

While Wilbur Cross – with an attendance rate of 84.7 percent – had a combined average SAT score of 1,238, in the same year.

Most high schools in the New Haven district reported lower attendance rates and SAT scores than the state average, the state data shows.

Christopher Bostock, principal of Achievement First Amistad High School, said, “Attendance is extremely important in helping students achieve strong test scores.”

Amistad has strict attendance policies.  If a student misses four days a quarter they automatically fail for that quarter.    Bostock added,  “The stakes for missing school are so high. Amistad goes to great lengths to ensure that students arrive” and attend classes.

Psychologists Merry J. Sleigh and Darren R. Ritzer, in a recent report, noted  “Students who are in class, hear discussion and elaboration of important concepts and gain more knowledge. Students who attend class regularly will understand complex ideas and problems. A student who regularly misses classes is unable to understand complex examples.’’

Nationally, SAT scores dropped slightly in 2012 — in the critical areas of reading and writing, according to the College Board, which issues the test. The board expressed concern that poor attendance rates at some high schools contributed to the drop in scores.

Terrell Saunders is a junior at Achievement First Amistad High School, New Haven.

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