SAT scores are down this year in the country, the state and at Ashland High School.




Critical reading scores declined at AHS from 576 to 560, and math scores dropped from 567 to 550, according to the College Board, which administers the test. Writing scores improved three points in Ashland, bucking the national downward trend.




When compared to the national results, Ashland is still far above the average scores of 502 in reading and 515 in math. Local students also performed better than the Oregon average, at 522 and 526 respectively. The maximum score for each section is 800.




AHS Principal Jeff Schlecht said evaluating two or three years as a whole gives the most accurate indication of progress.




"Each class is unique as they come through," he said. "The idea for us is always to look at it from a programmatic view."




Over the past six years, reading scores in Ashland have ranged from 560 to 576 and math from 549 to 567. A new version of the test was introduced in 2005, which Schlecht said some students found more difficult. The College Board also added the mandatory writing section last year.




Other academic benchmarks




ACT scores, a popular alternative to the SAT, were also released earlier this month, and Ashland students also performed higher than both the national and state average. The average composite score of 23.5 for Ashland students is virtually unchanged from the last several years, according to the ACT summary report. Thirty-five Ashland students took the test last year, compared to 154 who took the SAT.




Schlecht also emphasized the Advanced Placement scores of students as a benchmark for the school's academic success. A passing score can often be turned into credit once a student enrolls in college.




A total of 118 students, nearly half of AHS students, took at least one AP test last year. Students passed 86 percent of the tests attempted.




"We look at this and it's a cause of great celebration," Schlecht said about all the test scores. "When you have the combination of parents that value education at home and a strong teaching staff, you get this kind of result."