The latest batch of college-readiness scores brought glum news across the country Monday, but especially for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and its high-poverty high schools.
SAT scores, used to gauge whether high school seniors have the reading, math and writing skills needed for college, dipped slightly nationwide and in North Carolina. Only 43 percent of the students who took the test in 2012 hit a new benchmark score of 1,550 out of a possible 2,400, according to The College Board, which administers the test. The board set that score as a predictor of college success.
Many colleges use SAT results in their admission process, but acceptable scores vary by school.
Averages for the nation and North Carolina dropped slightly from the previous year a total of two points nationwide and six points in the state. But CMS saw a 19-point drop, from 1,482 in 2011 to 1,463 this year. That means CMS went from above the N.C. average last year to below this year.
The N.C. average was 1,475 in 2011 and 1,469 in 2012. Wake County, the states largest district, averaged 1,565 in 2012, down three points.
At high-poverty CMS schools such as Garinger, West Charlotte and West Meck, seniors were far less likely than classmates at lower-poverty schools to take the SAT, and they logged far lower average scores.
Providence High, a low-poverty high school in southeast Charlotte, logged the districts highest average at 1,708, with 89 percent of seniors taking the SAT. West Charlotte, a high-poverty school that is the focus of efforts to boost achievement, averaged 1,194, with 53 percent participating.
Garinger, a high-poverty school on Charlottes east side, apparently had the lowest participation and results in the district. But results were broken into five small schools, even though that setup was abolished last year, leaving no clear overall number for the school.
CMS offered no explanation for the slump in a news release Monday, and did not address the variation among schools. Deputy Superintendent Ann Clark said in the statement that she hopes this years adoption of more rigorous national common core standards for reading and math will help us to get these scores moving upward.
The SAT is not mandatory, and the highest scores tend to be found where relatively small numbers of college-bound students take the test. National, state and local officials encourage students to take the test, even if theyre not sure theyre going to a four-year university, in hopes that it encourages teens to plan for higher education.
About 68 percent of N.C. and CMS seniors took the test in 2012, well above the national average of 52 percent. But while the state and national dips were accompanied by increased participation, CMS saw a small decline in participation.