SAT scores hold steady in Rowan

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Sarah Nagem
snagem@salisburypost.com
Rowan-Salisbury high school seniors scored about the same on the SAT in the past school year when compared to the year before.
Seniors who took the test this year scored an average of 977 on the math and reading sections, according to numbers released Tuesday.
Last year’s average score was 976, down from 991 in 2006.
While the results held steady from last year, the Rowan-Salisbury system continues to lag behind state and national averages.
The local score was 30 points behind the North Carolina average of 1007. The national average score is 1017.
“I’m not pleased with it,” said Dr. Jim Emerson, chairman of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education. “But realistically, we’re hanging in there. We’re holding on.”
Students can score a maximum of 1600 on the reading and math sections of the test.
The lone high school in the Kannapolis school system ó A.L. Brown High ó also fell behind state and national figures with an average score of 998. But the school’s average score jumped nine points from last year’s results.
Three Rowan-Salisbury high schools saw improvement in their average SAT scores: Jesse Carson, South Rowan and West Rowan.
Carson had the biggest improvement with a 64-point jump in its average score. Students there scored an average of 1022 ó the highest average in the Rowan-Salisbury system.
At South, students scored an average of 18 points higher in the 2007-2008 year compared to 2006-2007. The average score was 1008, the second highest in the school system.
West saw a 25-point increase with an average score of 974.
SAT scores at East declined slightly for the 2007-2008 year, with an average of 990 compared to 996 for 2006-2007.
North Rowan and Salisbury high schools fared the worst.
The average score at North in the past school year was 940 ó a 41-point decline from the previous year.
Salisbury High scored the second lowest, with an average of 945, a decline of 28 points in its average.
The scores at North and Salisbury are the lowest in the school system, but those schools had the highest percentage of students to take the test.
At Salisbury, nearly 74 percent of seniors took the SAT, while almost 61 percent at North took the test, which is administered by the College Board.
At Carson ó the school with the highest average score ó the fewest percentage of students took the test ó only 37.5 percent of seniors.
Dr. Windsor Eagle, principal at Salisbury High, said he doesn’t encourage or discourage students from taking the SAT, which many colleges use when deciding whether a student will be admitted.
“I think students have to make that choice themselves,” Eagle said.
But he said having a lot of students who declare themselves college bound may result in lower SAT scores if many of the students aren’t academically advanced enough.
“The more people that take it that may be college-prep fringe, the lower the scores will be,” Eagle said.
Throughout the school system, fewer seniors chose to take the SAT in the 2007-2008 school year ó 625, or 50.6 percent of seniors. That compares with 641 students, or 51.2 percent, who took the test in 2006-2007.
But that dip isn’t nearly as big as the statewide figures. This year, 63 percent of North Carolina seniors took the SAT, compared with 71 percent the year before.
Nationally, 45 percent of seniors took the test this year, while 48 percent took it last year.
Emerson said he wishes more local students would take the SAT.
“Realistically, all of them need to take it,” he said. “Then you would get a clearer picture.
“A lot of people don’t take it because they don’t want to know how bad they are.”
Writing scores
The results released Tuesday also include writing scores. A writing portion was added to the SAT a few years ago. The writing section is also worth 800 points, which increases the maximum possible score to 2400.
Most Rowan-Salisbury high schools didn’t see much change in their SAT writing scores this year.
Carson had the biggest change ó a 58-point leap to a score of 479, the highest score in the school system.
The writing section helped A.L. Brown High School, too. After the writing score is factored in, the school earned a combined reading, math and writing score of 1473 ó a 25-point increase from last year.
That score pushes the Kannapolis school above the Rowan-Salisbury average score of 1434 when the writing section is considered.
ACT scores
Students’ scores on the ACT also held steady in the past school year.
The average score in the Rowan-Salisbury School System was 19.5, a slight increase from 19.3 in 2006-2007.
The ACT isn’t as popular as the SAT among North Carolina students. Only 120 Rowan-Salisbury students took the ACT in the past year.
As with the SAT, local numbers continue to fall behind state and national averages. The average statewide ACT score in the past year was 21.3; the average national score was 21.1.
East Rowan and West Rowan high schools scored the best in the school system, with average scores of 21.5. Carson did the worst with 17.6.
More than half the ACT test takers in Rowan-Salisbury schools were from Salisbury High, which received an average composite score of 18.6.
Composite scores are based on English, math, reading and science.
Three of the school system’s six high schools met the English and reading benchmark scores: East, South and West.
East was the only school that reached the benchmark in math, while no schools reached the target science score.
Advanced Placement scores
Nearly half of the Rowan-Salisbury students who took Advanced Placement exams in the past school year met the standard accepted score.
For the 2007-2008 year, 48 percent of students who took an Advanced Placement test received a score of a 3 or higher, the score normally required to qualify for college credit.
That number compares with 41 percent in 2006-2007.
But more than 300 fewer students took an Advanced Placement test in the past year compared to the previous year. In 2007-2008, 743 students tested, while 1,063 students took AP tests in 2006-2007.
Some colleges accept advanced placement test scores as college credit.
Salisbury High School’s class of 2008 had the highest percentage of students score at least a 3 on a test during their high school careers ó 18.1 percent.
North had the lowest percentage scoring 3 or higher ó 7.6 percent.

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