Page A2 Otwaick Thursdav. September 1,1988
SAT: 'Equal opportunity'
By VALERIE ROBACK GREGG
Chronicle Staff Writer
A local guidance counselor
believes school systems deny low and
average achievers an "equal educational
opportunity" when they do not encour
age them to take the Scholastic Apti
And while Forsyth County’s aver
age SAT score remains relatively low,
allowing more students a chance at col
lege entrance is well worth the price,
Marion Simpson, an East Forsyth High
School guidance counselor, said.
Simpson takes issue with other
school systems' officials who encour
age only top students to take the SAT.
She says this practice leaves some aver
age Afro-American students behind,
and through her role as a guidance
counselor, Simpson encourages all local
Afro-American students to take the
SAT and take a vital step toward col
School/Community Relations offi
cer Susan Carson, however, said that
businesses considering locating in the
area always ask for the county's aver
age SAT score as an indicator of the
school system's success. They do not,
however ask for the number of students
taking the test, she said, making the
average SAT score a meaningless mea
sure of school effectiveness.
Simpson is appalled by schools
which do not make SAT registration
materials and preparatory courses avail
able to average or below-average stu
dents simply because it can pull their
school's average SAT score down. And
she is also distressed by the number of
Afro-American youths who neglect to
take SAT preparatory courses offered at
county high schools.
The SAT is the primary test used
by area universities and colleges for
coUege entrance. The test is aimed to
gauge students’ potential success in col
lege, but is used along with other mea
sures such as grades, teacher recom
mendations, and the difficulty of cours
es taken, Simpson said.
’’Some institutions base scholar
ships on SAT scores," Simpson said.
"The richest black school in the country,
Hampton Univeisity, does that If a stu
dent scores 1,000 or better on the SAT,
they can get an academic scholarship."
Scholarship awards, as well as col
lege entrance, however, depends on
grades, the level of courses taken and
class standing also. Three East Forsyth
High School graduates were offered
such a scholarship last year, and one,
Susan Harrison, is entering Hampton
University this fall, Simpson said.
"For many colleges and universi
ties, the SAT is a means of channeling
the child. With minority schools, more
awards are based on higher SAT scores
than in majority schools."
But Simpson is nevertheless con
cerned by the number of local Afro-
American students who decide not to
take the SAT and/or do not take advan
tage of the many SAT preparatory
classes offered after school by the
county school system, the county
Department of Human Services and the
local branch of the National Associa
tion for the Advancement of Colored
About 53 percent of Forsyth
County high school seniors who gradu
ated in 1987 took the SAT. According
to school statistics, about 38 percent of
the student population is Afro-Ameri
can, yet only 24 percent of those taking
the test were Afro-American.
And Afro-American students also
had the lowest average score as a group
on the verbal portion of the test, scoring
an average of 325 out of a possible
1600, compared to white students who
Afro-Americans scored higher on
the math portion of the test than the
verbal, averaging 360 out of a possible
800, compared with white students’
average of 476.
But Simpson encourages all stu
dents, especially Afro-Americans, to at
least try. "Some persons would dis
agree because it brings their high
school's average score down," she said.
"There are some administrators who
feel that youngsters should be denied
picking up registration material. I have
voiced my opposition to this.
"Many students in standard cours
es with average grades need more help
prepariiig for SATs than the others.
They are not encouraged because the
information is going only to the
advanced classes. That is denying
youngsters an educational opportunity...
It really bothers me when all we want
to do is give them the information, and
they want to give the information to the
advanced students. They're not reach
ing for colleges that are that far beyond
Simpson said that scenario does
not happen at East Forsyth but is appar
ent in some high schools.
Young Afro-American women in
their senior year in high school are
much more likely to take the SAT than
are their Afro-American male counter
parts, according to county testing statis
Of the minorities who took the
test, only 36 percent of the students
were males. Of white students who
took the test, 50 percent were males.
Simpson attributes some of this
difference to the rising aspirations of
Afro-American females, as well as
some male students choosing to join the
military after they graduate from high
school and then go to college. "The
black female is seeking higher educa
tion because the opportunities for
employment are increasing,” Simpson
said. "The black female is definitely on
the move. Males have another outlet.
They can seek military service and then
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Marion Simpson talks over SAT
go to school through the military. More
males go in that direction."
County Director of Guidance
William Albright said school officials
encourage a large proportion of stu
dents throughout the school system to
take SATs. "We teach SAT preparation
courses in the third year (of high
school), and they do have a positive
effect on scores," Albright said. "It
makes the students feel better about the
test It does away with some test anxi
The high school English curricu
lum also incorporates vocabulary stud-
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of 14th and N. Patterson
ies to help students' verbal test scores,
Forsyth County schools have a
larger percentage of students taking
SATs, Albright said. "In some school
systems, there's not as much interest in
taking the test,” he said.
Because the North Carolina Com
munity College system will accept SAT
scores in addition to their own entrance
tests, Forsyth County schools encour
age more students to take the test than
other school systems do, said Susan
Carson, county school/community
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