State SAT scores barely budge

Posted September 13, 2010

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— The average score on the SAT in North Carolina went up two points in 2010, but the state continues to trail the national average on the college entrance exam, officials said Monday.

North Carolina's average on the reading and math portions of the test was 1,008 out of a possible 1,600 this year, compared with the national average of 1,017. Nationwide, the average score dropped one point from 2009.

The state's gain came in the reading portion of the test, from 495 to 497. The average on the math section remained at 511 for the third straight year. Scores on the writing section of the test dropped three points, from 480 to 477.

The scores are based on the most recent SAT taken by public and private school graduating seniors in 2010. Sixty-three percent of the Class of 2010 statewide took the test, compared with 47 percent nationally. The state participation rate was a record, officials said.

Although North Carolina remains below the national average, officials noted that the state has dramatically closed the gap in recent years. Twenty years ago, the gap was 53 points, they said.

In Wake County, the average SAT score was 1,069, down four points from 2009. Durham County students posted an average of 963, down two points, while the average for Cumberland County students was 947, also down two points.

Students in Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools had an average of 1,194, up 15 points from the previous year, while students in other Orange County schools posted an average of 1,044, up five points. The average score in Johnston County was 1,022, up six points from 2009.


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  • flyingcheetah92 Sep 14, 2010

    Justin you are absolutely right that being nine points below the national average is hardly a big deal in itself however I do not think that we should be aiming to be on the same level as the national average. We should instead be aiming to be well above it

  • Justin T. Sep 14, 2010

    "North Carolina's average on the reading and math portions of the test was 1,008... compared with the national average of 1,017."

    Hang on while I file this under "whoop-de-do". If it were 100-200 points below the national average I could see getting fired up about it.

  • Vietnam Vet Sep 13, 2010

    How do they expect students to do well on the sat's? Schools spend most of their time teaching the End of Grade tests and not a lot else... If you teach one test how can they be expected to pass an entirely different test??

  • dmarion2 Sep 13, 2010

    "50% of all U.S. states have SAT scores below the national average, so we're in good company."

    You need to go back to school, take a statistics class, and learn the difference between a mean (i.e. average) and a median score. The national mean or average score is the sum of all individual test scores divided by the number of samples (i.e. people taking the test; it has nothing to do with 50% of the states. Another way of doing it, but less accurate, would be to sum the average score in each state and divide by 50 - that still has nothing to do with 50% of the states. The median score is the one for which 50% of the results (samples or number of people taking the SAT) are above it and 50% are below it. If you compare the average test scores in each state, the national median is the score at which 50% of the states have lower averages and 50% have higher averages. You can also compare the national median of state median scores and so forth. Just leave it to others.

  • Schpartacus Sep 13, 2010

    The SAT is an "aptitude" test, not a test of what a person has learned, so this has nothing to do with how good or bad the state's education system is. The only factor that should affect scores is the demographics of the population taking the test, which can vary both as a percentage of all students (as others have pointed out) as well as due to the makeup of the overall student population.

  • midnightclay Sep 13, 2010

    Golly - I thought all this bussing would have worked by now.

  • 4Cats Sep 13, 2010

    As long as they are going up, we should be happy...

  • alanon Sep 13, 2010

    I am sure this pleases the Wake County School Board immensely. This does nothing but help build their case. Not a good thing, IMO

  • joeyjnc Sep 13, 2010

    The real reason our average is lower than the national level is because we as a state have more kids taking the SAT than most states. It has nothing to do with how smart or not our kids are.

  • NC Reader Sep 13, 2010

    Trolling Wolf -- Thank you for your informed comments. Unfortunately, some people just want to spout off about who's responsible for our below-average SAT scores, when really our scores would match up against any other state when you factor in the percentage of students who take the test from each state. Of course states where only the top students take the SAT are going to do better than states that have a large percentage of students taking it (like NC).