Most public school districts in York County saw at least a slight increase in their SAT scores from the previous year, according to information on the Pennsylvania Department of Education website. A few schools saw scores dip from the previous year.
Countywide results: The average score for York County's public schools on the verbal test for 2010 was about 491, up about six points from 2009, and the average math score was about 503, up four points from the previous year. On the written portion of the exam, the average county score was about 476, up two points from the prior year.
Those numbers fall shy of the state's mean scores for 2010: 501 on verbal, 516 on math, and 492 on writing.
The College Board warns against using SAT data to rank schools or make comparisons because demographics and other non-school factors can affect the scores.
Going up: At York Suburban High School, scores went up in all three categories and outpaced the state. Principal Russell Greenholt said it's a combination of the curriculum, the teachers and the students.
There are a number of variables from year to year that can affect scores, he said, and a change of only a few points might be statistically insignificant. But the school is proud that students do well on the tests.
"We feel we give kids a good foundation for them to move on to next level," he said. "We're fortunate, in some regards, that our SAT scores reflect that."
Scores at Dallastown Area High School also improved and surpassed the state average.
Principal Alan Fauth said the school encourages all students to take the SAT. In the past few years, he said, more students have been taking the ACT, another test used in college admissions, as well.
"We look at the SAT and ACT (as) helping us measure some of our college prep and honors classes to make sure our curriculum is in sync," he said.
Dallastown offers a course to prepare for the SAT, he said, though there's debate over whether one can study for the test.
"It still is going to measure what you have learned, what you have retained," he said.
College view: Greenholt and Fauth said colleges look at the scores in determining admissions, though some might place more weight on them than others.
A smaller liberal arts school might look harder at the academic rigor of a student's high school course work or the strength of an interview in addition to SAT scores, Greenholt said. But for a school like Penn State, the SAT is still an important academic indicator, he said.
Private school SAT scores
About 92 percent of York Catholic's class of 2010, or 101 students, took the SAT. The average scores were 542 for verbal, 521 for math and 538 for writing. The scores fluctuated slightly from the class of 2009, when the average scores were 556 for verbal, 515 for math, and 542 for writing.
York Country Day School could not report an average score. The 11 students in the class of 2010 took the exam, and the mid-50 percent range of scores were 500 to 620 on the verbal test and 580 to 640 on the math test, said Paula Porter, director of college guidance.
Scores for the Christian School of York could not be obtained Tuesday.