Education

Scores on SAT improve in most area districts

SAT scores, designed to measure college readiness, rose in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and surrounding districts, outstripping national and statewide gains, according to numbers released Tuesday.

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.

“These scores are going in the right direction. Two years ago, our scores were 17 points below the state average; today we're tied,” Superintendent Peter Gorman said in a prepared statement. “We'll continue to raise the rigor in our high schools across the board as part of our commitment to increasing academic achievement – and that should keep our SAT scores rising.”

As usual, CMS scores varied dramatically by school, from a high of 1711 at Myers Park High to a low of 1205 at West Charlotte.

Iredell-Statesville, Cabarrus and Union counties topped state and national averages for public and private schools.

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 public schools in the Carolinas encourage even marginal students to take the test, in hopes it will encourage them to apply for college.

Wake County, North Carolina's largest district, topped CMS and the rest of the state on both participation and results. But Wake, too, saw participation decline, from 80percent to 74 percent.

South Carolina's average nudged up only slightly this year, and remains well below U.S. and N.C. averages. But among states where more than half of seniors take the test, it has made the biggest gains in reading and math over the past decade.

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.

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.

SAT scores, designed to measure college readiness, rose in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and surrounding districts, outstripping national and statewide gains, according to numbers released Tuesday.

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.

“These scores are going in the right direction. Two years ago, our scores were 17 points below the state average; today we're tied,” Superintendent Peter Gorman said in a prepared statement. “We'll continue to raise the rigor in our high schools across the board as part of our commitment to increasing academic achievement – and that should keep our SAT scores rising.”

As usual, CMS scores varied dramatically by school, from a high of 1711 at Myers Park High to a low of 1205 at West Charlotte.

Iredell-Statesville, Cabarrus and Union counties topped state and national averages for public and private schools.

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 public schools in the Carolinas encourage even marginal students to take the test, in hopes it will encourage them to apply for college.

Wake County, North Carolina's largest district, topped CMS and the rest of the state on both participation and results. But Wake, too, saw participation decline, from 80percent to 74 percent.

South Carolina's average nudged up only slightly this year, and remains well below U.S. and N.C. averages. But among states where more than half of seniors take the test, it has made the biggest gains in reading and math over the past decade.

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.

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.

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