SAT scores rise in Charlotte region

SAT scores, intended to measure college readiness, rose in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and surrounding districts, outstripping national and statewide gains, according to numbers released this morning by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

CMS, Cabarrus, Catawba, Gaston, Iredell-Statesville, Lincoln and Union county public schools saw their 2008 districtwide averages on the test of verbal, math and writing skills rise by more than 10 points over the previous year. CMS, which was below the state average for public and private schools last year, caught up, matching the state average of 1489 out of a possible 2400 points.

Iredell-Statesville (1548), Cabarrus (1523) and Union (1512) topped the state average, as well as the national average for public and private schools, 1511.

Although the number of test-takers is growing, participation rates dropped nationally and even more in North Carolina. Nationwide, 45 percent of last year's seniors took the SAT, down from 48 percent. N.C. participation went from 71 to 63 percent.

States and schools with lower participation tend to have higher averages, because a more select group of college-bound students are taking the test. Most N.C. public schools encourage even marginal students to take the test, in hopes it will encourage them to apply for college.

The SAT, administered by the private College Board, is controversial as a predictor of college success. Some universities have stopped requiring applicants to take the SAT or the ACT, an alternative college-readiness exam, saying high school grades tell more about the student's prospects.

The SAT became longer, lasting almost four hours, after the College Board added a writing section three years ago. Some universities ignore those results, and N.C. officials focused only on reading and math in reporting this year's scores.

Learn more: (look under “News) and (click “2008 College-Bound Seniors”).