AP exam scores improve; 2015 seniors’ SAT scores decrease

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District students’ scores on Advanced Placement college exams continued to improve in 2015, the College Board reported. High school seniors’ average scores on SAT exams dipped slightly, but Beaufort County’s ranking relative to other districts improved.

2015 Advanced Placement exam results

AP courses – and the accompanying College Board exams that demonstrate mastery of the course material – let students earn college credit while still in high school. Last school year, 50 percent of Beaufort County’s AP students scored 3 or better on the tests’ five-point scale, qualifying them for college credit. That was up slightly from 48 percent in 2010.

District officials said they were encouraged by long-term increases in the numbers of district high school students taking AP courses. For the 2014-15 school year, 1,584 AP exams were taken compared to 1,288 in 2010.

“It’s a very positive sign when more students take more difficult courses and their exam scores continue to improve,” Moss said. “That shows that our students and teachers and administrators are doing the right things.”

Testing experts say that average scores tend to decrease when more students take the tests, but that hasn’t occurred in Beaufort County over the past five years.

Among local high schools over the past five years:

  • Battery Creek High increased the number of AP exams taken from 7 in 2010 to 102 in 2015. Forty percent scored high enough for college credit in 2015, up from zero percent five years ago.
  • Beaufort High increased the number of AP exams from 417 in 2010 to 607 in 2015. Thirty-nine percent scored high enough for college credit in 2015, compared to 28 percent in 2010.

Statewide, the percentage of AP exams with scores of 3 or better was 57 percent, the same as last year but up from 55 percent in 2010.

2015 Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT) results

Average 2015 SAT scores for Beaufort County public school seniors decreased slightly, from 1,424 in 2014 to 1,422 in 2015. Looking at five-year trend data, Beaufort County public school students’ average SAT score is up six points, from 1,416 for 2010 seniors to 1,422.

Average scores at two of the district’s three high schools declined. The highest score that a student can achieve is 2,400:

  • Battery Creek High’s average was 1,314, up from 1,280 last year (54 percent of seniors tested).
  • Beaufort High’s average was 1,451, down from 1,471 last year (63 percent of seniors tested).
  • Whale Branch Early College High’s average was 1,211, down from 1,246 last year (63 percent of seniors tested).

Statewide, South Carolina’s overall 2015 state public school average decreased slightly, from 1,429 in 2014 to 1,428 in 2015.

In terms of average scores for high school seniors, Beaufort County ranked 26th among the state’s 82 districts in 2015 compared to its 39th-place ranking among 85 districts in 2010. Beaufort County ranked fourth statewide in the percentage of 2015 seniors taking the SAT (68 percent), up from its ninth-place ranking in 2010 (59 percent).

“Our guidance counselors make certain that students know the courses they need to complete before taking the SAT or ACT tests.

Later this month, all district 10th-graders will take the preliminary SAT. Unlike the SAT, the PSAT provides extensive feedback on individual student performance. Chief Instructional Services Officer Dereck Rhoads said that careful review of those results would help teachers help individual students while also improving teachers’ own instructional practices.