Sherman High School saw an major influx of students taking the PSAT and SAT and a slight dip in scores from 2017 to 2018. The change comes as the Sherman Independent School District has started offering the tests, free of charge, during the school day.

The school board received an update on the district's recent scores on the two tests and the ACT Monday night during it's monthly board meeting. The update only included the 2018 numbers for the PSAT and SAT as the numbers are expected to be released next month, while students will take the ACT next semester.

“We are committed to providing opportunities for all of our students in preparing them for college and post-secondary readiness,” Sherman High School Principal Jenifer Politi said.

While the PSAT itself is not a test that can be used for acceptance in colleges and universities, it can serve as a way to get a baseline for student skills and comprehension on the high-level tests. Politi said the students who score between a 480 and 510 on the math portion, and a 430 and a 460 on the reading and writing portion, have a 75 percent chance to score a C or higher during their first year of college.

“We want more kids to be exposed earlier in their educational careers to this level of rigorous testing before the SAT and ACT,” Politi said, referring to the PSAT.

With the test serving as a good barometer for readiness and potential weaknesses, the school started having more of its students take the test as a part of the school day.

For the past school year, this resulted in a surge of students who took the test. In 2017, 117 sophomores and 180 juniors took the test. These numbers more than doubled in 2018 when the school had 356 sophomores and 382 juniors take the evaluation.

With a far greater sample size, Politi said the mean score for the school did go down, but the school still fared well. For the

2017 year, the 10th grade saw a mean score of 506 on the math portion and 491 on the reading and writing segment of the PSAT. By comparison, the 10th grade saw a 430 in math and a 431 in reading for 2018.

The district also saw an increase in students taking the SAT over the same time period. While the district saw 258 students take the test in 2017, about 100 more took it the following year.

Compared to state scores, the district was above average for 2018. The district's mean scores were a 496 on the reading portion and a 484 on the math portion, for a mean total score if 981. Meanwhile, the state mean score was a 949.

In looking at these scores and scores, end-of-course exams, STAAR test results, and other testing, Politi said she wants to focus on math to increase student performance in this category.

“We start finding ways within our structure and curriculum in the classroom to expose students to what these questions and tests will look like,” she said.

Other examples of programs aimed at increasing student preparedness for the tests include an elective course aimed at test prep, and other recognitions for students with high achievement on the tests, Politi added.