SAT scores in state stay flat
Published: Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 09:09
North Carolina students' performance on the SAT college entrance exam remained nearly flat, with the state's average combined score on the critical reading and math sections creeping up two points over last year to 1008.
State results appear to mirror the nation's, where the average score inched up one point, to 1017.
More high school graduates in local districts took the SAT, reversing a dip last year. The proportion of Durham County students taking the SAT jumped nearly 20 percentage points, while the average score dipped slightly, from 965 to 963.
More than 71 percent of Wake County students took the exam, up from about 67 percent last year. Wake's average score dropped four points, to 1069.
"We are particularly pleased in our percentage of participation," saidDavid Holdzkom, assistant superintendent for research and evaluation for Wake County public schools.
School officials were disappointed at the lower scores, Holdzkom said, but he noted that county students' performance has seen an upward trend over 20 years.
"It was a small dip, but we never want to see any kind of a dip," Holdzkom said.
More Durham graduates took the test because school officials emphasized its importance, said Lewis Ferebee, Durham Public Schools' chief of staff.
"Whether students have their eyes set on a four-year college or not, it's always a good experience to have," Ferebee said. "So we're committed to have as many students as possible have that experience."
Though officials are pleased that more students are taking the test, Ferebee said, the results indicate the district needs a plan to improve scores.
One reason for the decline may be more seniors taking the SAT for the first time, instead of taking a practice test their junior year, he said.
Orange County students' average score increased five points to 1044; the Johnston County average went up six points to 1022; and students in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro district had their average scores jump 15 points, to 1194.
The SAT added a writing section in 2005. The state's average writing score dropped three points, to 477, below the national average of 492.
Most of the state's high school students choose to take the SAT rather than the ACT, though that could change.
The State Board of Education is considering requiring high school students to take the ACT in 11th grade, with the state paying the cost. This year, only 16 percent of the state's high school graduates took the ACT, while 63 percent of the public and private high school gradates took the SAT. Nationally, 47 percent of this year's high school graduates took the SAT.
ACT scores for state students were slightly higher than the national average.
Though this year's SAT performance was nearly flat, the state Department of Public Instruction touted the state's long-term gains. In states where at least half the high school seniors took the SAT, North Carolina showed the largest 10-year gain, according to the state.