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Juniors who take preparation classes improve SAT scores, counselor says

Scores on college entrance exams in 2010 increased significantly for those Niagara Wheatfield juniors who participated in preparation classes.

In a presentation to the School Board, senior high school guidance counselor Lisa Lindamer said the 67 students who took the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) in October 2009 had higher scores in all three areas when they took the SAT the following spring. Critical reading scores went up 78 percent, math 63 percent and writing 75 percent, according to the report. The Niagara Wheatfield scores also beat out increases on the national level.

All juniors who took the PSAT were shown their results and instructed by counselors on how to interpret the scores and use them to prepare for the SAT, it was noted. Each was given access to a personalized online tutorial program to work on areas that needed improvement, along with an SAT practice test.

School Superintendent Carl Militello praised the program and said it is now the district policy goal for all juniors to take the PSAT, which is given by the district free of charge. This year, 83 are enrolled.

Counselors also noted that an increase in Advanced Placement courses available to high school students mean a maximum of 44 college credits can be earned before graduation. Many students graduate from high school with a semester's worth of college credits already earned, they said.

In another matter, the board approved a $30,000 contract with the Buffalo Audubon Society for consultation on its nature trail and recreational facilities that are to be built through the building project that voters approved in September.

School business executive Kerin Dumphrey said the contract cost would be covered by state building aid and greenway funding connected with the project. The society would provide advice and assistance in the design and construction of the trail, teaching stations and other facilities for the duration of the planning and construction.

The board also heard from a Trails End mother who said her 6-year-old daughter was punched and bullied on a school bus. She said the bus transportation policy calls for the immediate suspension of any student who commits an assault on a bus. The two 7-year-old girls involved were not suspended, she said. Since she started handing out fliers about the problem, she said another dozen parents said their children were accosted, too.

Bus drivers are unable to control student behavior while driving, she said. She added that the drivers are allowed to listen to music on the buses, which could prevent them from hearing calls for help.

Board President William Conrad acknowledged that the bus drivers have one of the most difficult assignments in the district, but he promised to discuss the situation with the superintendent and the transportation director.

e-mail: niagaranews@buffnews.com

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