Despite a two-day closure for COVID-19 cases early this month, North Springs High School managed to hold SAT testing on Nov. 7, with school officials hoping to improve upon the 25-point average increase reached during the last school year.

The combined SAT average at the high school in Sandy Springs jumped from 1,048 up to 1,073, said Principal Scott Hanson. He attributed the jump in SAT scores to working with teachers to get to the core of what students need to know.

The district average was 1,078. At Sandy Springs’ other high school, Riverwood International Charter School, students’ combined average was 1,077.

The maximum SAT combined score is 1,600, with up to 800 for the evidence-based reading and writing section and 800 for the math section.

The district embarked on the standards mastery framework, which aligns teacher instruction with standards that Georgia teaches statewide, Hanson said.

North Springs High is “getting to the core of, what is it the kids need to know and how do we deliver instruction to them so they are going to get better?” Hanson said.

“We break down the standards every kid is expected to know. What is the level of mastery we expect to master state, master SAT, ACT? Let’s teach to that level so that those kids understand,” he said.

Teachers work with students so that they can navigate, formulate and respond to a test question to the best of their ability, Hanson said, and it’s paid dividends.

Students take the PSAT through a partnership with the College Board and Khan Academy. They get back a detailed report on where they did well, and where they did not so well. Then they are given a structured plan on how to improve their weak areas. Work on the plan comes in homerooms and unstructured times with teachers and students.

The last thing North Springs High has done is working on testing review over the past three years, which Hanson said proved popular with students. More students have taken advantage of the test prep experience.

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.