During the April 1 meeting of the Plymouth School board, the members heard a report of the 2013-2014 PSAT scores from Plymouth High School. Presenting the report was James Condon, PHS principal, and Aimee Portteus, director of guidance. The PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) is a standardized test administered by the College Board and National Merit Board Scholarship Corporation. Approximately 3.5 million students take the PSAT/NMSQT each year in the United States. In 2013, 1.59 million sophomores and 1.55 juniors took the test. It is historically given to all sophomores and juniors may self-select to retake the test.

The scores for the PSAT/NMSQT test are used to determine eligibility and qualification for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

The test is divided into three sections-critical reading, math, and writing with each section scoring between 20-80 points. Unlike the SAT, the PSAT does not contain any higher-level math or essay writing. The testing time is two hours and ten minutes and includes multiple choice questions with the exception of ten open-response math questions. Students may use calculators to help determine answers on the test.

According to Condon, the PSAT data measures the performance of PHS sophomores verses the state and national averages; is used to analyze and/or make adjustments in instruction; and predict the percentage of sophomores who will be college and career ready upon graduation.

PHS students scored slightly below the state and national averages on the critical reading portion. The average score for PHS students, the state, and the nation all decreased slightly when compared to last year. PHS sophomores scored an average of 41.0 compared to the state average of 42.1 and national, 41.9. The PHS score last year was 41.7.

For the second consecutive year, the PHS math scores were below the state and national averages coming in at 41.4. The state average was 43.3 and the national was 42.8.

The average scores in the writing portion showed similar results. The PHS score of 39.0 was slightly below the state and national averages. The average score for PHS students declined by one point from last year. The state average remained relatively the same and the national average decreased slightly, going from 41.3 to 40.6.

The scores for college and career readiness decreased slightly as well. There are no state scores available, but PHS students scored 32.7 compared to the national average of 37.7.

According to Portteus, 39 juniors opted to retake the test and their average score was 71.8.

Jennifer Shaw, Triton Jr-Sr High school guidance counselor, said Triton sophomores scored 38.1 in critical reading, 41.0 in math, and 36.6 in writing.

Condon said PHS English and math teachers completed a data analysis of the test scores focusing on two driving questions. He said they are looking at what changes they will make to instruction and consider the next steps for those students who did not perform well on the PSAT. Condon said, “We can only control what is in our arena.”