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SAT scores take a slight drop in school district

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By Jesef Williams

Local scores on the SAT were down slightly in 2009 compared to 2008, though participation increased significantly, following state and national trends.

The College Board released SAT scores Tuesday.

Lancaster County School District high school seniors had an average composite score of 1360 on the SAT’s three sections of critical reading, math and writing. The district’s 2008 average was 1371.

Indian Land High School had the highest 2009 average composite score (1470) among the district’s four high schools.

Buford High School had an average composite score of 1420.

Andrew Jackson High School scored a 1413 average, and Lancaster High School scored 1287.

BHS and ILHS both increased their composite scores from 2008, when BHS had 1407 and ILHS had 1420.

Despite the average dip districtwide, district personnel are pleased to see more students taking the test. In 2009, 371 seniors in district schools took the SAT, compared to 234 in 2008.

“The increased participation was evident at all four of the district’s high schools,” said Lydia Quinn, the district’s director of planning and accountability. “It is our hope that this increase participation indicates that more of our students are considering opportunities for post-secondary education.”

This was the fourth year students took the redesigned SAT test, which includes a writing section in addition to math and critical reading (formally called verbal).

Scores on the three sections range from 200 to 800, meaning a perfect scores is now 2400.

The test takes about five hours to complete.

State scores

South Carolina’s public school seniors’ average composite score for critical reading, math and writing was 1445 – down six points from 2008.

Critical reading was 482, math was 496 and writing was 467, compared to national averages for public schools of 496, 510 and 467.

The national average dropped two points to 1493.

More South Carolina students took the SAT in 2009. The Palmetto state had a 2.4 percent increase compared to a 5.7 national decrease in participation.

“As a state, our challenge is to do better on both access and achievement,” said Dr. Jim Rex, the state’s education superintendent. “We know that access is improving because more students are taking the ACT and SAT. But when a broader group of students take the exams, scores typically go down.”

AP scores

State scores on Advanced Placement tests continued their across-board improvements.

An all-time high of 14,970 students scored high enough in 2009 to earn college credit, an 11.4 percent increase over last year’s 13,434.

The number of exams attempted also rose from 23,901 to 26,453.

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at jwilliams@thelancasternews.com  or at (803) 283-1152