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N.C. Average SAT Score Improves By Four Points

Posted August 30, 2005 7:48 a.m. EDT

— N.C. Average SAT Score Improves by Four Points

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Higher mathematics scores pushed the overall average SAT score for North Carolina's class of 2005 up four points from the previous year,

the College Board

said Tuesday.

North Carolina students scored an average of 511 on the math section of the test, up from 507 the year earlier. The average score on the verbal test remained the same at 499. Each score is graded on a 200-800 point scale.

The state's total average score increased to 1010, out of a possible 1600, compared to 1006 the year earlier.

"Any increase is welcomed," said Eddie Davis, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators. "Obviously, as a former English teacher, I wish that the verbal had increased some, but it looks like it remained flat."

Wake County had the third highest average in the state. Considering the Wake County participation rate was more than 75 percent, Superintendent Bill McNeal said those numbers are great. Chapel-Hill Carrboro Schools and Watauga County Schools were No. 1 and No. 2, but both are smaller, less urban school systems.

"Third in the state when you consider we test the largest number of students -- in our opinion we're number one," McNeal said about this year's test scores, which went up 12 points from last year. "We can say that."

North Carolina has improved its score each year since 1990, except in 1994 when there was no change. Since 2000, average SAT scores have improved 22 points; Since, 1995, 40 points, the board's data showed.

"More North Carolina students are taking the SAT and they are improving their scores every single year," Gov. Mike Easley said at a news conference where he was joined by state Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson and State Board of Education Chairman Howard Lee.

Nearly every demographic group of students improved their scores in 2005, but Hispanic students did not, Atkinson said. The average SAT score for North Carolina Hispanic students was higher than the national average for Hispanic students, Atkinson said.

Despite North Carolina's overall increase, the state's scores continue to lag behind the national averages. The national mathematics average score rose to an all-time high of 520, while the average verbal score remained at 508.

Davis said North Carolina encourages students to take the SAT, and nearly three-quarters of high school graduates took the test last year. Only eight states and the District of Columbia had higher percentages of students taking the SAT.

"To be able to maintain our scores and increase slightly is a tribute that so many students are taking the SAT," Davis said.

The class of 2005 was the last class to take the older version of the SAT. The newer version has higher-level math, additional reading passages and a new writing section with an essay. Students in the class of 2006 already have begun taking the test, said officials with the College Board, which develops the SAT.

SAT scores play a role in the admissions process at 80 percent of the nation's colleges and universities. The ACT is the country's second-largest college entrance exam.