State SAT Rate Continues to Rise a Record Pace
South Carolina seniors increased their average SAT score by seven points in 2005, maintaining for a fourth consecutive year South Carolina’s top national ranking for improvement. The national average increased by only two points.
Berkeley County School District saw an overall increase in SAT scores of six points from last, up to 999 from 993. Hanahan High continued to score well in the district, with an overall SAT score average of 1006, down 10 points from 2004.
The College Board, which tracks five-year SAT trends, said South Carolina’s 27-point improvement since 2000 remains the nation’s best among states that test at least 50 percent of their students. The national average rose only 9 points over the same period. The state’s five-year improvement rate was also No. 1 in the nation in 2002, 2003 and 2004.
“I’m pleased to see this latest increase, and especially pleased that we’re still improving at such a fast pace,” said State Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum. “Just six years ago the gap between South Carolina and the national average was 62 points. We’ve narrowed that margin to only 35 points. That is solid, steady progress.”
The state’s average SAT score increased by seven points to 993 from last year’s 986, while the national SAT average rose from 1,026 to 1,028.
“Absolutely no one should be satisfied with where we are today,” Tenenbaum said. “Continuing to improve college entrance exam scores is one of my five key focus areas this school year, so we will be redoubling our efforts. Our first target will be the 1,000-point mark, our second target will be the national average, and our third target will be exceeding the national average.”
More high school seniors in the Class of 2005 chose to take the SAT than in the previous year’s senior class – 64 percent compared to 62 percent. The College Board said that increases in the number of test-takers often lead to lower scores.
The average SAT math score of South Carolina’s 2005 high school seniors increased four points to 499 compared to the national SAT math score of 520, which increased two points from last year. The state’s average verbal increased three points to 494, while the national average verbal score remained the same at 508. Possible scores on SAT verbal and math tests range from 200 to 800.
A particularly bright spot in the 2005 SAT Report was the performance of African-American students. The average score of black students increased by 13 points from last year (from 842 to 855), while the number of black test-takers increased by one percentage point. White students’ average score increased 10 points (from 1,032 to 1,042) as the number of test-takers increased 14 percentage points.
South Carolina boys raised their average score by five points to 1,016, while the average score for girls increased 10 points to 975.
“A series of focus groups have met to make recommendations for improving college entrance exam scores,” Tenenbaum said. “These groups will be refining initiatives that have been successful in recent years and incorporating ‘best practices’ from our state and across the nation to strengthen our efforts.”
Tenenbaum said that an ACT/SAT Improvement Summit is planned for later this fall to develop a long-term plan for improvement.
The state’s past college entrance exam improvement activities have included regional training for teachers and administrators through a partnership with the College Board and the General Assembly’s funding of the PSAT and PLAN for all 10th-graders.
The College Board partnership allows the state to offer additional test preparation materials for students and more training for educators. Training includes vertical teaming (where elementary, middle and high school teachers work together to align curriculum and learning strategies across grade levels), resources for guidance counselors and clinics for high school SAT/ACT coaches.
Tenenbaum said proper preparation remains an important key to success. South Carolina students who took the 20 or more academic courses recommended by the College Board had an average SAT score of 1,056 – 63 points higher than the state average.
South Carolina students who reported taking the PSAT averaged 1,008 on the SAT – 15 points higher than the State average – as compared to an average score of 888 for those who did not take the PSAT.
The SAT data includes the last score (through March 2005) for students who graduated in the Class of 2005. The College Board’s new version of the SAT that includes a writing portion was given for the first time last March, and data from that test will be reported next year.