North Mecklenburg High outscores state and national SAT averages
by Staff Writer
Student Aptitude Test scores released by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction earlier this month for 2011 show a slight decrease in state math, critical reading and writing scores compared to last year, although the number of graduating seniors taking the test increased by 4.4 percentage points.
“I’m pleased to see that a large percentage of our graduating seniors are considering pursuing their education after they graduate from high school,” State Superintendent June Atkinson said. “I hope that as North Carolina’s school graduation rate continues to increase so will the number of students seeking education beyond high school.”
The College Board creates and administers the Student Aptitude Test, widely known as the SAT, to determine a student’s readiness for college. Overall scores, combined from 800-point math, critical reading and writing sections, range from 600 to 2400. Most U.S. universities require the SAT for college admission.
At Hopewell High School, scores on all sections were slightly lower than the national and statewide averages. The school’s overall average score, 1462, was 38 points lower than the state average and 13 points lower than the
The Department of Public Instruction did not include SAT testing data for Hough High School because last year was the school’s first year of operation.
At North Mecklenburg High School, where about 82 percent of students took the test, students earned an average math score of 537, an average critical reading score of 524 and an average writing score of 512, for an average total score of 1573.
Charter and private schools were not included in the state-released breakdown.
Students consistently performed better than their state and national counterparts on all sections, boasting an overall score 73 points higher than the state average and 98 points higher than the national average. However, the school’s IB program, which attracts high-performing, college-bound students from throughout north Mecklenburg County, could likely factor in to the high scores.
Out of the 31 district-wide schools that reported their scores to the Department of Public Instruction, North Mecklenburg High boasted the fifth best writing score, behind schools such as Ardrey Kell, Meyers Park, Performance Learning Center and Providence high schools. Students at the school also ranked above their state and national counterparts in writing, who scored 474 and 489, respectively.
North Mecklenburg High testing coordinator Melissa McArthur said she believes both the school and the district have adjusted to the writing component of the test, which was introduced in March 2005 after college professors complained that students were entering college with low-level writing and grammar skills. The section includes multiple-choice questions that ask students to identify errors in a sentence and find ways to improve sentence and paragraph structure. Students also must write a brief essay based on a chosen prompt.
“I think that CMS is a pretty writing intensive district,” McArthur said. “Junior year English students must write a senior exit paper, which is basically an intensive research paper. They are writing that at about the same time they are taking the SAT.”
McArthur added she has noticed an increase in the number of students taking the American College Test, or ACT, an alternative standardized college admissions test. Although the ACT is considered to be easier by educators and college admissions officials, the test offers a shorter amount of time to complete each question. The recent rise in colleges that accept, and even require, ACT scores has given students greater flexibility in choosing a test that fits their own test-taking style.
While the Department of Public Instruction still considers North Carolina an “SAT state,” McArthur said she would not be surprised if even more students choose to take the ACT.
“I think it is one of those things that just kind of change with the times,” McArthur said.
Read the state’s full report at www.ncdpi.org.