Glen Ridge superintendent discusses 2021 SAT and AP test scores

Superintendent of Schools Dirk Phillips presents SAT and AP test scores to the Glen Ridge Board of Education on Oct. 25.

GLEN RIDGE, NJ — Glen Ridge School District Superintendent Dirk Phillips shared an update on the district’s SAT test scores at the Glen Ridge Board of Education meeting on Oct. 25, informing board members and the public that, even though the district’s scores cannot be compared to the state and national scores because that data has not been received yet, Glen Ridge students still did well.

“Our numbers dipped a little bit from last school year but are still high,” Phillips said, mentioning that the COVID-19 pandemic probably affected overall scores. “We must remember that, when we’re looking at that senior class, typically we get students who will take SATs multiple times. A lot of these students didn’t have that opportunity. During their junior year, in March the state shut down. In the spring or early fall students usually take the SAT for a second or third time, and that’s going to impact our scores a little bit.”

Ninety-five students took the SAT at Glen Ridge High School last year, which was down from the previous year’s total of 109. In 2021, the average score on the reading section of the test was a 617; the average score on the math portion was a 632. In 2020, the average reading score was 628 and the average math score was 637.

Another effect of the pandemic, according to Phillips, is that a lot of colleges did not require SAT scores to be submitted with applications. That might have affected the number of students who took the test, because some students probably opted out altogether.

“We had 80 percent of our students score above 1000, 57 percent of our students scored above 1200 and 33 percent of our students who took the SATs scored above a 1400,” Phillips said. “It’s terrific to see the percentage of students scoring above a 1400 increasing.”

Compared to similar districts in the area, including Millburn, Caldwell, Chatham, Livingston, Verona and West Essex, Glen Ridge is behind only Millburn, whose average student score is a 1342 total. Glen Ridge’s total average score is a 1295.

“That’s a terrific sign,” Phillips said. “Typically, we’ve seen our scores increase for the last few years. We’re hoping that will continue as we get back to more normal instruction.”

He also talked about advanced placement test scores at the meeting; those scores have also dipped from 2020 to 2021 as a result of the pandemic. Sixty-eight percent of students who took an AP exam scored a 3 or higher out of a possible 5, which is lower than the 2020 average of 84 percent.

“I caution you not to read into it too much,” Phillips said. “AP tests given were much different because of the pandemic. Those tests were administered remotely, they were shortened significantly and they only covered content from the first half of the year. That’s why you see that our numbers are higher in that 2020 year. When you start comparing our numbers to the year prior to that, we’re in the same range.”

For a small school, Glen Ridge High School offers a lot of AP classes and has increased its AP course offerings in the last several years. More students are taking those classes and then taking the AP exam at the end of the year.

“We wanted students who were heading off to college to have at least one college-rigor course under their belt,” Phillips said. “About half of the students who have taken AP exams are being recognized as a Scholar, a Scholar With Honor or a Scholar With Distinction.”

To be named an AP Scholar, a student must receive scores of 3 or higher on three or more AP exams. To be named an AP Scholar With Honor, a student must receive an average score of at least 3.25 on all AP exams taken and scores of 3 or higher on four or more of those exams. To be named an AP Scholar With Distinction, a student must receive an average score of at least 3.5 on all AP exams taken and scores of 3 or higher on five or more of those exams.

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