Average SAT scores in Scotland County public schools dropped this year compared with the previous year.
Students this year averaged 1242 on the college entrance exam, according to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. Last year, the county’s average score was 1305.
The average composite score among all North Carolina students was 1469, also reflecting a drop from 2010-2011 scores. Nationally, more than 1.6 million students averaged 1498, down 2 points.
The maximum score for each of the SAT’s sections — critical reading, writing and math - is 800. A perfect combined score is 2400.
On the SAT, more Scotland County students were tested than in past years, with 240 in 2011-2012 compared with 202 in 2010-2011.
The average math score was 434; critical reading scores, 410; and writing 398.
The performance of 30 Scotland Early College High students was included in those numbers. The average composite score among SEarCH students was 1333 out of 2400.
It should also be noted that there is a statewide shift from the SAT to the ACT as a college entrance test, local schools are implementing a strategy to better prepare students to perform well on the grueling examinations.
In the first year that the ACT was widely administered to Scotland County students, 343 high school students took the test, including seven at Shaw Academy. Unlike the SAT, the ACT tests proficiency in science as well as English, mathematics, reading, and writing.
“Both the ACT and SAT are college entrance exams; obviously there’s been a shift and we’re exited about it because it gives us the opportunity to engage students on a broader spectrum,” said Pam Baldwin, Scotland County Schools’ assistant superintendent for curriculum.
All ACT sections other than writing are scored on a scale of 1-36. Writing is scored on a scale of 1-14.
The mean writing score for all Scotland County students tested in 2011-2012 was 5.8, with a mean math scores of 18.3, mean English scores of 14.3, mean reading scores of 16.6, and mean science scores of 16.7.
The ACT sets college readiness benchmarks in each subject area. In Scotland County, 25 percent of students scored at or above the English benchmark of 18, 24 percent scored at or above the math benchmark of 22, 23 percent scored at or above the reading benchmark of 21, and 10 percent scored at or above the science benchmark of 24. Eight percent of students met all four benchmarks.
The writing benchmark of 7 was met by 32 percent of local students, with fewer than six percent of students meeting all benchmarks.
The ACT is now a required test for all 11th grade students in North Carolina, and the Common Core curriculum, newly implemented for the current school year, is aligned with the capabilities tested by the ACT.
Higher scores are also expected on future tests, once students are familiarized with the ACT format.
“It was new for the students, so just within the assessment they’re diving in to take this large test,” Baldwin said. “Scores across the state were not where anyone wanted them to be - we always want to improve, and that Common Core will help us.”