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South Carolina's SAT scores drop

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - The average SAT scores for South Carolina's graduating seniors are down - falling this year two points on top of last year's nine point drop.

The College Board said Monday the average for public school students in South Carolina was 1,443 compared with a national average score of 1,497. When private and home-school student scores were added the average score rose to 1,447. That is five points lower than last year. The 1,447 average score for all South Carolina students compares with a national score of 1,509 for 2010.

The College Board says 5 percent more South Carolina public school students took the test this year than last year.

The scoring gap between white and black students dropped by 11 points in South Carolina this year compared with 2009.

Leading the increase in Palmetto State participation were Hispanic seniors, up 24.5 percent compared to 7.7 percent nationally. South Carolina's Hispanic students also significantly outperformed their counterparts nationally on all three parts of the test.

"South Carolina is doing dramatically better with access," said State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex. "More minority and low-income students are aiming for college than ever before, and many more of those students are taking the SAT, ACT and AP exams."

In addition, 36.5 percent of the state's SAT takers said they were the first in their families to aim for college.

Rex said high schools should make better use of the preliminary SAT test (PSAT), which provides useful feedback to students and educators. The state pays testing fees for either the PSAT or its ACT counterpart, PLAN, and some districts pay for the test that the state doesn't fund.

The Lowcountry proved to be a microcosm of the state showing most schools in the area's five districts enduring further drops in both individual testing areas and in composite scores, the results stated.

All but Georgetown County saw an increase in the number of SAT takers in 2010. Charleston County saw the highest increase with almost 200 more students signing on to that the test.

In Charleston County, 62 percent of high school seniors took the test. The County had a dip in the three test areas -- writing, reading comprehension and math -- and an overall 13-point drop from last year in composite scores.

In Berkeley County, only two more students and only 33 percent of high school seniors took the SAT. The county school district saw a small drop in scores and a 9-point drop in composite scores.

In Dorchester District 2, half of all seniors took the test. The county saw a small decrease in mean scores in all test areas and an overall 12-point drop in composite scores. In Dorchester District 4, 15 students took the test, an increase of one from last year.  Only 9 percent of seniors in the district took the test. Dorchester 4 was the only district to increase mean and composite scores as a county. Test takers there managed to substantially boost their scores in all areas over 2009's data and resulted in a 122-point increase in composite scores.

In Georgetown County, 51 percent of seniors took the test. The county school system saw a negligible drop in mean scores from 2009 and a 20-point increase in the composite score.

At the school level, 12 schools had more than half of the senior class take the SAT in 2010: Summerville High in Berkeley County, Fort Dorchester in Dorchester County, Academic Magnet, the School of the Arts and Garrett Tech in North Charleston, Baptist Hill in Hollywood, West Ashley High, Wando High in Mt. Pleasant, James Island High, and Lincoln, Georgetown and Waccamaw in Georgetown County.

At Summerville High, the school boosted the number of test takers by seven to 384, but showed an average drop of 8 points in the three testing areas. The school had a 25 point drop in composite results.

Fort Dorchester increased the number of test takers nominally over 2009's numbers. The school held steady in reading scores and increased math scores over last year by 12 points. Fort Dorchester students also increased their overall composite scores by 6 points.

Woodland High in Dorchester County saw the biggest jump in scores, but only had 15 students -- and 9 percent of the senior class -- take the SAT this year. Woodland students substantially raised  their scores in all areas over 2009's data and resulted in a 122-point increase in composite scores.

Fewer students and only 19 percent of seniors took the SAT at Goose Creek High. The results showed a near-20-point drop in all test areas and a 59-point drop in composite scores.

In Berkeley County, both Cross High and Stratford High had a decrease in the number of test takers, but both schools saw an increase in scores. At Cross High, 25 percent of seniors took the SAT. The test takers there posted a 30-point increase in writing and a 20-point increase in math scores over the 2009 data. Composite scores increased by 68 points. At Hanahan High, 31 percent of the senior class took the test and posted small gains in the reading and writing sections of the test, but slipped 12 points in the math section. Overall, the school saw an increase of 73 points on the composite score.

Timberland High also saw a dip in the number of test takers. Thirty-two percent of the senior class took the SAT this year. The school saw a drop in mean reading scores, but remained unchanged in the other two sections, the state reported. The school had a 19-point composite score drop.

North Charleston played host to the two schools in the Lowcountry with the highest senior participation rates on the SAT. Academic Magnet and the School of the Arts had the most seniors taking the test, highest mean scores in all testing areas and the highest composite scores. The Academic Magnet had a slight increase in test takers and overwhelming 97 percent of the senior class took the SAT this year. The test takers showed gains in reading and writing, but had a slight drop in math scores. Overall, the school had an increase in composite scores of 13 points. At the School of the Arts, the school showed a similar gain in the number of students taking the SAT and 92 percent of seniors took the test. The school showed minor drops in all test sections and a 24-point drop in composite scores from 2009.

North Charleston High, Military Magnet and Garrett Tech all showed gains in composite score results over 2009 with 68-, 36- and 18-point increases, respectively. At North Charleston High, the school only saw two more students, for a total of 49, take the SAT this year. However, those that did take the test substantially increased in all three test sections over the previous year. Military Magnet had fewer students take the test in 2010, but posted a sizeable 40-point increase in the reading section. The students there were relatively unchanged in math and writing. At Garrett Tech, more than 20 students signed on to take the SAT in 2010 and 60 percent of the senior class took the test.

Four more students, for a total of 54, took the SAT at RB Stall High. Thirty-one percent of the senior class took the test. The school had a small dip in mean reading scores and remained relatively unchanged in writing and math. The result, the state data reported, was a 17-point drop in composite scores.

Fewer students took the SAT at Burke High in downtown Charleston, but the school had almost half of the senior class taking the test. The school posted at least a 10-point drop in each of the test sections and a 41-point drop in composite test data from last year.

At West Ashley High, more than 20 more students took the SAT in 2010 and 53 percent of the senior class participated in the test process. The school had drops in all test areas, but the biggest was a 13-point decrease in writing. The school had a 29-point composite score drop, the state data showed.

At Baptist Hill High, the school had an increase in the number of test takers of almost 60 percent. The school took big hits to reading and writing scores and a smaller drop to math scores. Overall, the school had a 53-point drop to the composite scores over a year ago.

In Mt. Pleasant, a surge of students from Wando took the SAT. The state data shows almost 120 more students, for a total of 582, took the test over last year. Also, 81 percent of seniors took the test. However, scoring data was not the best news for the school. Wando students posted near-20-point drops in mean scores from 2009's data. The result was a 53-point drop in composite scores.

At James Island High, almost 200 students took the SAT in 2010, an increase of 30. Of those students, 57 percent were seniors. However, the school showed 20-point slides in reading and math, the state report stated.

At Saint Johns High, 25 percent fewer students took the standardized test. Of those, 43 percent were seniors. The school had negligible drops on the three section tests and the composite score.

In the Georgetown County area, three of the high schools had a small increase in test takers, but Georgetown High had a 20 student decrease from last year. At Lincoln High just across the county line in McClellanville, 62 percent of the senior class took the test. The school showed decreases in the mean scores, but the biggest drop came in writing. In all, the school had a 39-point composite score drop. At Andrews High, the students struggled with the math section this year, showing a 30-point drop from a year ago. The composite score drop was similar. 39 percent of seniors took the SAT there. At Georgetown High, 67 percent of seniors took the test and they experienced a drop in mean scores. Overall, the school had a 27-point drop in composite scores from 2009. However, at Waccamaw High, students showed increases in all test areas. In the reading section, scores were up 10 points and scores increased by 20 points in both the math and writing sections. Overall, the composite score increased 61 points from a year ago.

Copyright 2010 WCSC and The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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