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County SAT scores drop

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By Reece Murphy

Following the state- and national-level trend, average SAT scores for college-bound Lancaster County high school seniors slipped slightly this year with only one high school showing a slight increase.

The SAT is one of two widely accepted national college-entrance exams. Redesigned in 2005, the test consists of three sections: critical reading, math and science, which are scored on a range of 200 to 800 points for a perfect score of 2400.

According to information released Monday by The College Board, the test’s developers, 442, or 60 percent, of Lancaster County School District’s 742 students opted to take the five-hour test, 43 more than in 2011.

The district’s average composite score slipped slightly to 1317, down 12 points from 2011. The average composite score was 71 points less than 2010 and 43 points less than 2009.

District seniors fared best on the math portion of the test overall with an average score of 447 followed by critical reading with an average of 436 and writing with an average score of 421.

Lancaster High School  was the only one of the district’s four high schools to post an overall gain this year, with a mean composite score of 1245, up seven points from 2011.

The school had 176, or 54 percent, of its 326 seniors take the test, 10 more than in 2011. As with the district, the school’s seniors scored highest in math with an average mean score of 432, followed by critical reading with an average score of 413 and writing with an average score of 400.

Seventy-six percent of Indian Land High School students, or 111 of 147, took the SAT.

The students’ average composite score was 1,416, the highest in the district, but down 12 points from 2011.

ILHS students scored highest on the critical reading portion of the test with an average of 485, followed by math with an average score of 471 and writing with an average score of 461.

With 54 percent of its seniors taking the test, or 75 out of the 142 students, Andrew Jackson High School had a mean composite score of 1319, down 35 points from 2011.

The students scored highest in math, with an average score of 462, an average score of 443 in critical reading and an average score of 414 in writing.

Buford High School had the sharpest drop in its mean composite score, falling 89 points to 1265 from 1354 in 2011. Just over half of the school’s seniors, 75 out of 142, opted to take the SAT.

Like most of the other schools, BHS seniors scored highest in math, with an average score of 462, followed by critical reading with an average of 443 and writing, with an average of 414.

State/national results

On the state level, South Carolina’s 23,014 public-school seniors who took the SAT test had an average composite score of 1422, down five points from 2011. On the national level, the average composite score for public school students fell four points from 1481 in 2011 to 1477 in 2012.

The state’s seniors scored highest on the math section with an average score of 488, 26 points less than the national average of 514; 481 in critical reading, 15 points less than the national average; and 462 in writing, 26 points less than the national average in the subject area.

In a press release, South Carolina Superintendent of Education Mick Zais beat a familiar drum in his reaction to the drop in state college-entrance exam results, saying it showed the effects of the “wide reading gap between South Carolina and the nation.”

“Addressing the reading gap in elementary school must be our top priority because reading is fundamental to everything else in education,” Zais said.

SAT vs. ACT

College-bound students may take the SAT or the other major college entrance exam, the ACT – or both – since both are universally accepted by institutions of higher learning in the United States.

The basic difference between the tests is that the SAT, which has no science section, is a logic-based test intended to test a student’s understanding of the subject areas’ concepts.

The ACT is curriculum-based, with an emphasis on material students have covered, and is intended to test the students’ “mastery of the material.”

 

 Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151