Only 3 Camden Teens Got 'College Ready' SAT Scores

New superintendent gives sobering assessment of listening tour

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 18, 2013 2:41 PM CST

(Newser) – Just how bad are things in Camden's schools? So bad that only three students there managed a "college ready" SAT score in 2013, new superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard revealed yesterday. He called the number a "kick-in-the-stomach moment." It was one of a number of sobering assessments Rouhanifard delivered in presenting the results of his August "listening tour" to the school board, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. "It is OK if all our students don't end up with a four-year diploma," he said. "But we can do better than three students."

Rouhanifard also announced that the district would do away with the $75 fee for a background check it has been charging parents who want to volunteer; the schools will now cover the checks. Camden is plagued by poverty and crime—Rolling Stone had a damning piece last week declaring it "America's most desperate town"—and only 53% of its students graduate high school. But "college ready" SAT scores are a little harder to come by than you might assume; only 43% of students hit the College Board's 1550 benchmark this year.

Teenagers sit in class at MetEast High School in Camden, NJ, in this June 17, 2009 file photo.
Teenagers sit in class at MetEast High School in Camden, NJ, in this June 17, 2009 file photo.   (AP Photo/Mike Derer)
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