State, national SAT scores dip lower

SOUTH CAROLINA: Class of 2007 showed 1-point drop from last year

State and national scores on the SAT took a slight dip in 2007, according to information released by The College Board Tuesday.

In South Carolina, seniors from the class of 2007 earned a composite score of 984, a 1-point drop. Nationally, seniors dropped from 1021 to 1017.

The SAT is the most widely administered college entrance examination in South Carolina. This is the second year for data from the redesigned SAT, which now includes a writing section, more reading analysis and tougher math problems. The test takes nearly five hours to complete. Scoring on the three sections ranges from 200 to 800 points, so a perfect score is now 2400.

The average SAT score of the state’s high school seniors was 496 in math, 488 in critical reading and 475 in writing, for a composite of 1459.

This compares to the national average of 515 in math, 502 in critical reading and 494 in writing, for a composite of 1511.

Despite the 1-point dip, South Carolina has seen a 31-point increase in the composite SAT score since 1997.

Upstate results mixed

Gaffney, Chapman, Landrum, Woodruff, Byrnes, Dorman and Spartanburg High exceeded the state reading and math composite score.

Blacksburg High saw the largest score increase, gaining 45 points over last year for a composite of 948. Lockhart High gained 44 points, with a composite of 969, while Woodruff gained 43, with a composite of 1018.

Spartanburg County school districts 6 and 7 were among seven districts in the state to surpass the national average in composite score for critical reading, writing and math. Dorman High has a total composite score of 1,537 out of a possible 2,400, while Spartanburg High earned 1,515.

At Dorman, where 49 percent of seniors were tested, the number of test-takers increased from 303 to 316, and the composite score for reading and math dropped by 1 point to 1033.

“It’s longer, tougher. Our kids take it seriously because they know colleges use the SAT to determine the admissions process,” said Dorman principal Jerry Wyatt.

Spartanburg High had the largest percentage of seniors tested of any public Upstate school with 54 percent. The Vikings also gained 22 points over last year, and District 7 testing coordinator Al Jeter attributed the success to a collective effort of solid instruction beginning from the elementary schools on up.

At Spartanburg Day School, which is a private K-12 school, the 2007 senior class scored 25 points above the 2006 senior class, with a composite score of 1150 in reading and math. All 32 seniors in 2007 took the SAT, which is a pattern continued from 2006, when 100 percent of seniors took the SAT. Marcel Gauthier, head of the Upper School, said the 25-point gain is good, but it doesn’t have much meaning since each senior class is different.

“I’ve always felt that our kids have done well on this exam

traditionally, as we put a lot of emphasis on critical reading,” Gauthier said. “We’re doing the best we possibly can to give them an advantage as we look at colleges.”

Schools appeal results

At least two Upstate school districts have appealed their 2007 SAT results with The College Board.

In Spartanburg County School District 1, administrators contested the scores for Chapman High several weeks ago, and said they are disappointed with the lack of response.

The College Board reports that Chapman’s composite score this year is 16 points lower than the year before, and district administrators have said it’s because there are non-Chapman students reported with the school’s score. Chapman administrators calculate a composite score of 1003 this year, which is a 10-point increase over The College Board’s reported score.

“The discouraging thing is that students and teachers work very hard, and it’s disturbing because you want accuracy to be reflected on your teachers’ and students’ performance,” said Chapman principal Ron Garner.

In Spartanburg County School District 3, Superintendent Jim Ray said he has contested scores from Broome High for several years. This year, about six students who were not part of the 2007 senior class were figured into the scores by The College Board, and Ray said a correct score would mean Broome has earned a composite score of 972 points, instead of the 13-point decrease The College Board is reporting.

“I think the ACT is a better analysis of the quality of a curriculum than the SAT because it focuses on content, and that’s why some of the major universities in the country will accept ACT scores and will not accept SAT scores,” Ray said.

Officials from the Southern Regional Office of The College Board did not return phone calls seeking information about the appeals process.

AP sees improvement

The College Board also reported national and state data for Advanced Placement exams.

Seniors in the Palmetto State saw improvement on the 2007 AP exams. More seniors than ever before – 14,922 – scored high enough to earn college credit, which is an 11 percent increase over last year’s 13,457. The number of exams attempted rose from 24,137 to 26,117, also an all-time high. And the number of black students whose scores qualified for college credit increased by about 15 percent.

Individual high school scores for AP tests won’t be released until later this fall.

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