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N.C. SAT Scores Fall; Nationwide Scores Fall More

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina SAT scores dipped slightly in 2006, but a larger decline nationwide helped the state continue to close its achievement gap with the rest of the country, according to data released Tuesday.

Students in North Carolina posted an average score on the Scholastic Aptitude Test of 1,008, compared with the national average of 1,021. The gap between the state and national averages has been cut from 53 points in 1990 to 13 points now.

Math scores statewide inched up to 513 from 511 last year, but that was offset by a decline in reading scores from 499 last year to 495. Nationwide, math scores fell by two points, to 518, and reading scores dropped five points, to 503.

  • SAT Results For All N.C. High Schools

    Seventy-one percent of North Carolina high school seniors took the SAT, which is considered a measure of a student's probability of success in college.

    "North Carolinians can look at our state's performance on the SAT over the past few years and be proud that our state has out-performed the nation in the amount of points gained over time," Superintendent of Education June Atkinson said in a statement. "By encouraging a high participation rate and demonstrating strong improvements for minority students over time, our state has shown that we are raising expectations for educational achievement for all."

    Black and Hispanic students in North Carolina posted gains on the SAT this year. Blacks gained an average of six points from 2005, posting an average score of 857. Hispanic students improved their average score by seven points, for a total of 967.

    "It is especially noteworthy with all the effort that has gone into closing the achievement gap and encouraging these minority students," state Board of Education Chairman Howard Lee said.

    Students in Wake and Durham counties saw their average SAT scores decline this year, while scores for Cumberland County students rose slightly. The average score in Wake County dropped from 1,075 to 1,066, while Durham's average fell from 1,005 to 987. Cumberland students raised their average from 955 to 959.

    State officials couldn't explain why some scores dropped. But they said one reason might have been more students just taking the test once.

    "There were fewer students who were retaking the test as in previous years," said Lou Fabrizio, director of the state Department of Public Instruction's Division of Accountability Services.

    The SAT added a writing section in 2006. North Carolina's average writing score is 485 out of 800 possible points, compared with the national average of 497.

    "We need to do more to teach writing," Atkinson said.