Students and staff at Lake Region High School in Naples deserve credit for working hard this year to boost their 11th-grade SAT scores after years of lackluster performance on the test.

But that doesn’t mean that school district officials were wrong to sign up for a federally funded turnaround program aimed at schools identified as “persistently low-performing.”

Lake Region got on the list with a series of poor performances by successive junior classes on the SAT, which is a college entrance exam used in Maine as an 11th-grade assessment test.

Students did not seem to take the test seriously, staff members observed. College-bound youth saw it as practice for the real SAT in the fall. Students who weren’t planning to attend college did not think the SAT was worth their time.

This year, staff took class time to prepare for the test and gave the students the message that it was important. These efforts paid off with improved scores and a feeling of vindication for teachers and students who felt unfairly singled out by their designation.

But the test is just a measure of what is going on at the school, and it’s reasonable to assume that if students were not properly prepared and motivated for the SAT, other areas need improvement as well.

What this year’s 11th-graders have shown is that significant improvements can be made in a very short time with fairly small adjustments if the will to make them is there.

With guidance and financial support from the federal government, Lake Region will be able to implement ideas that have worked in other schools and will be able to make improvements all through the high school. This year’s SAT performance should give the school confidence that it can improve.


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