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More than half of Prince George’s County high schools improved on SAT scores this year, but the county still lags behind the state average overall.

Prince George’s County students scored an average of 1,296 out of a possible 2,400, putting them 201 points behind the statewide average of 1,497. The average county score is up from last year, when the county averaged 1,283; the statewide average last year was 1,480.

The SAT is an exam in reading, math and writing that measures aptitude in college-level coursework. The highest possible score for each subject is 800, allowing for a total score of 2,400.

Bladensburg High School had the biggest increase — an 86-point jump from 1,167 to an average of 1,253.

Derek Tyler, Bladensburg’s instructional coordinator, attributes the increase to the arrival of principal Glynis Jordan who began her second year at the helm of the school Aug. 24. Tyler said Jordan encouraged a focus on instructional strategies such as teaching to each child to single out weaknesses and strengths.

“There’s a big focus to differentiate instruction to make sure all students are reaching their goals,” Tyler said.

This year, 4,263 county students took the SAT compared to 4,796 students in 2008 and 5,038 students in 2007, according to county school data.

Bruce Hislop, the county schools’ accountability reporting officer and data quality director, said a possible explanation for the drop in SAT participation could be smaller senior class sizes.

In contrast, the number of students taking Advanced Placement exams, tests students must pass to receive college credit for courses taken in high school, rose significantly again this year. There were 8,524 exams taken in 2009 compared with 7,434 in 2008 and 5,347 in 2007, said Lynn McCawley, a county schools spokeswoman.

School officials have been working to increase the availability of Advanced Placement courses and to encourage students to take the tests needed for college credits. The changes give students a chance to participate in more rigorous coursework and increases the number of AP courses at schools where few were offered, school officials have previously said.

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