The SAT rankings: Mt. Lebanon ranks highest among local schools

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The college-going members of the high school Class of 2006 are first.

They're the first to take the revamped SAT college entrance exam -- including the added writing test. Colleges, universities and the College Board will be watching to see whether there's a relationship between their SAT scores and how they did in college.

This month, the state Department of Education released the scores for the Class of 2006 for each public high school in the state in math, critical reading and writing.

The College Board used to give the states scores for nonpublic schools as well but no longer does so.

While some nonpublic schools released their scores on request, all four independent schools in Allegheny County -- The Ellis School, Sewickley Academy, Shady Side Academy and Winchester Thurston -- refused to do so beyond what already was on their Web sites, some citing concerns about ranking. The Kiski School in Westmoreland County followed suit.

Cheswick Christian Academy also declined to release its scores.

The scores across the state show that, as is true in the nation, critical reading and writing scores often are fairly close.

Some of the top SAT performers statewide are in Western Pennsylvania.

Of 630 public high schools in the state, nine of the top 30 combined scores for the Class of 2006 are in Western Pennsylvania. Mt. Lebanon ranked fourth in the state, followed by Upper St. Clair, sixth; North Allegheny, 10th; Fox Chapel Area, 12th; Franklin Regional, 16th, Hampton, 20th; Quaker Valley, 21st; Allderdice, 24th; and Peters in Washington County, 29th.

The highest average score in the state was for Julia R. Masterman School, a Philadelphia high school for the academically talented where 109 students took the test and averaged a combined 1904 on the three parts.

Writing didn't hurt overall scores. All of the local top scorers are in the top 35 counting just critical reading and math.

Grant Williams, supervisor of guidance for the Mt. Lebanon School District, said, "Our curriculum has always focused on writing."

In the bottom 30 statewide, all are in Philadelphia except for Duquesne City, which ranks above only two Philadelphia charter schools in the state.

The number of students tested varies widely. In Mt. Lebanon, 450 students took the writing test. In Duquesne, 17 did so.

In Allegheny County, the three highest available scores came from small nonpublic schools: Aquinas Academy in Hampton, a Catholic school which had 11 students tested; Hillel Academy in Squirrel Hill, with 13 test-takers and Eden Christian Academy in Ohio Township, with eight.

The state list of public schools did not cover any with fewer than 10 test-takers.

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