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UCHS SAT scores offer mixed results

Staff Report

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UNION COUNTY — The choice of coursework they pursued over the past four years enabled some Union County High School seniors to not only score above the national average on the SAT but also gain credit that could help them get into the colleges they want to attend.


In a statement released Thursday, Cindy Langley, director of secondary education for the Union County School District, announced that, according to the College Board, the SAT composite score of 29 students in the UCHS Class of 2013 “met or exceeded the SAT national average of 1,498.


Twenty-seven students from Union County High School scored above the national average of 496 in critical reading, 24 scored above the national average of 514 in math, and 31 scored above the national average of 488 in writing.”


Langley said that out of 225 seniors, 138 or 61 percent took the SAT in 2013. In 2012, 57 percent of seniors took the exam.


Even as the percentage of students taking the SAT increased, Langley said “the average composite score decreased with critical reading scores decreasing from 442 to 426; math scores from 464 to 437; and writing scores from 426 to 422.”


At the same time, however, Langley said the average composite score for students in the top 20 percent of the Class of 2013 “was 1,475, almost 200 points higher than that of the total class. The critical reading average for this group was 506; math, 490; and writing, 479.”


Langley congratulated the those students whose test scores exceeded that of their class.


“We certainly congratulate those students who scored above the national average on the SAT,” Langley said. “That is quite an accomplishment and a testament to their diligence.”


Langley said that diligence took the form of preparing for the SAT by taking the preparatory courses the high school offers students beginning in the ninth grade.


“The overall decrease in the SAT scores for the Class of 2013 is largely due to the number of students who took the test without having taken the appropriate coursework,” Langley said. “Union County High School students who took the recommended college preparatory courses in English, math, science, social studies, and foreign languages and passed those courses with at least a C average or better before taking the SAT had a composite score of 1,449, which is more than 160 points higher than that of the entire group. We must do a better job of helping students understand the correlation between taking rigorous coursework and attaining high levels of achievement on college entrance exams.”


Langley added that scoring well on their exams can also have an impact on a student’s ability to get into the college of their choice.


“The College Board reported that 26 percent of the students at Union County High School who took Advanced Placement exams in 2013 scored high enough to earn college credit compared to 24 percent in 2012,” Langley said. “Thirty-six students at Union County High School took 54 Advanced Placement exams in seven areas: Biology, Calculus AB, Chemistry, English Literature and Composition, Statistics, Studio Art, and U.S. History. To earn college credit on Advanced Placement exams, a student must score a three or higher on a five-point scale. Fourteen of the thirty-six students taking AP exams earned credit in at least one content area.”


Langley reiterated that the key to students scoring well enough on their exams to obtain the college credit they need is preparing for it throughout high school.


“Preparation is the key to students getting into the school they want,” Langley said. “They need to start preparing in their freshman year with course selection. They also need to take the PSAT in their sophomore and junior years before they take the SAT as juniors or seniors. The PSAT is given in the fall and the SAT in the spring, so if they wanted to take them their junior year a student could take the PSAT in the fall and the SAT in the spring.


Langley said the district will continue working to help students prepare for the SAT.


“While we were pleased to have a slightly higher AP passing rate in some areas, we were still disappointed with the overall passing rate for our AP program,” Langley said. “AP teachers will continue working with honors teachers in the feeder programs to identify instructional gaps in an effort to increase student performance on the AP exams. We know that students who take rigorous AP courses and honors courses in high school are well prepared for college freshman courses.”


The average composite score on the SAT for South Carolina public school seniors on critical reading, math, and writing was 1423, an increase of one point from 2012 while the national average for public schools dropped three points to 1474. Statewide critical reading for students attending public schools was 479; math, 484; and writing, 460 compared to national averages for students attending public schools of 491, 503, and 480 respectively.


When all scores are included – public, private and home-schooled students – South Carolina’s average composite score increased five points to 1433.


For more information about standardized test scores and preparation for college entrance exams, parents should contact the guidance department at Union County High School at 864-429-1750.

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