Published November 21, 2018


LYNNFIELD — Lynnfield High School Principal Bob Cleary presented the 2018 SAT scores to the School Committee on Nov. 13.

Cleary’s presentation included a four-year comparison of SAT evidence-based reading and writing and SAT math mean scores.

“When you look at our four-year comparison scores there, we’re pretty excited this year that we were able to maintain the level performance that we had last year,” Cleary said. “Certainly, I think what we’re doing is working.”

The evidence-based reading and writing mean scores were 537 in 2015, 530 in 2016, 578 in 2017, and 580 in 2018. Math mean scores were 562 in 2015, 547 in 2016, 569 in 2017, and 568 in 2018.

The high school has consistently scored above state and national mean scores in both areas for the past four years.

“Our department heads Marylou (Sambatakos) and Maryellen (Iannibelli) just do a dynamite job going through the analysis of the SAT results,” Cleary stated. “(They) take a look and see if there’s anything that we can see as an area of weakness.”

Using a score distribution chart, Cleary illustrated the steady increase in top level scores across the past four years in the evidence-based reading and writing section of the SAT.

“One of the things we were pretty happy with, when you look at especially those top two tiers, over the last couple years those numbers have increased,” Cleary said.

Students scoring in the 700-800 range increased from nine in 2015 to 12 in 2018, and those scoring in the 600-690 range increased from 35 in 2015 to 57 in 2018.

Cleary noted that the staff at LHS is excited about the upward trend in scores and would like to see this increase continue.

According to Cleary, the new MCAS exam will be more closely aligned with the SAT evidence-based reading and writing section.

“(SAT and MCAS) are going to be very similar,” Cleary said. “That’s what we’ve been gearing up for, and what we’re looking at and trying to add back into our curriculum.”

In addition to the four-year comparison, Cleary also provided a comparison of LHS scores to neighboring towns. The chart included Hamilton-Wenham, Swampscott, Masconomet, North Andover, North Reading, Rockport, and Wakefield.

Lynnfield High’s mean scores were higher than those of Wakefield and Rockport, but fell below the other five high schools.

“There’s some ups and downs there, but I think the overall thing is the consistency,” said Cleary. “Everybody is performing in the high 500s both in ELA and math.”

Cleary noted that he meets regularly with principals from the other towns to discuss curriculum and test preparation.

“We all do fairly similar things, but I think that the overall trend that we’re seeing more and more of is the outside of school, the SAT prep class, or the extra math tutoring, (and) English programs that are kind of popping up all over the place,” Cleary said.

SC reaction

School Committee member Tim Doyle noted that 95 percent of LHS students took the SAT exam, whereas only 86 or 87 percent participated in some of the districts that had higher test scores.

Cleary attributed this to early identification of students who would not attend college, or who would be attending a “test optional” school.

He stated that the Guidance Department encourages students to keep their options open by taking the exam.

School Committee member Phil McQueen asked Cleary if he thought the scores would improve now that the MCAS will align more with the SAT.

“At this point, we’re hoping that will be there,” Cleary said. “We haven’t really seen that group of kids come through.”

Cleary noted that imbedding SAT-type questions into the curriculum will be easier now.

School Committee Chairman Jamie Hayman brought up the question of outside SAT prep courses, and wanted to know if there was anything else the district should be offering.

“Is there more that we, being the community, need to be doing and looking at outside resources?” Hayman asked. “You’re going to get as good of an education as you’re going to get anywhere in the state at Lynnfield High School. We’re right around the 70th percentile with our SAT scores. I think parents expect more than 70th percentile, but I also don’t know as there’s much more that we can do within the schools.”

School Committee member Dorothy Presser noted that it’s not the school board’s job to tell parents they must utilize outside resources.

“I think it’s important to give the parents information, but I would hate to push parents to say that they need to do something too, because to me, part of that is an equity issue in terms of what families have to spend, and to tell them that they have to spend money to have their kid be successful, I think that’s not our job,” Presser commented.