District SAT scores dip slightly, AP scores improve

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Average SAT scores of 2014 graduating seniors in the Beaufort County School District dropped slightly after a dramatic increase the previous year, the College Board reported this week. Scores improved on Advanced Placement (AP) exams that high school students take for college credit.

2014 SAT results

Average 2014 SAT scores for Beaufort County public school seniors decreased by seven points, from 1,431 in 2013 to 1,424 in 2014. Scores the previous year had increased by 48 points.

Average scores at four of the district’s five high schools decreased, while scores at one increased:

• Battery Creek High’s average was 1,280, down from 1,332 last year (57 percent tested).

• Beaufort High’s average was 1,403, down from 1,419 last year (63 percent tested).

• Bluffton High’s average was 1,437, down from 1,471 last year (73 percent tested).

• Hilton Head Island High’s 2014 average was 1,477, down from 1,548 last year (75 percent of seniors tested).

• Whale Branch Early College High’s average was 1,246, up from 1,169 last year (57 percent tested).

Statewide, South Carolina’s overall 2014 state public school average was up six points to 1,429. The national average was down four points to 1,471.

Looking at five-year trend data, Beaufort County public school students’ average SAT score is up 36 points, from 1,388 for 2009 seniors to 1,424 for 2014 seniors.

Superintendent Jeff Moss continued to stress preparation as the key to higher scores on college entrance exams.

“The SAT and ACT both let students know the courses that they need to complete prior to taking their exams,” Moss said. “Our guidance counselors make sure students know this because getting ready for college is all about preparation.  If you take the right steps in high school, you’ll be ready to apply to college and succeed once you get there.”

2014 AP exam results

Nearly half of the Beaufort County students who took Advanced Placement courses last school year scored high enough to earn college credit, according to 2014 data from the College Board.

District officials said they were encouraged by increases in the numbers of district high school students taking AP courses. For the 2013-14 school year, 1,749 AP exams were taken compared to 1,712 the previous year and only 966 five years ago.

“It’s significant when more students decide to take more challenging college-level academic courses, and yet their scores continue to improve,” Moss said.

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.

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, 49 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 from 47 percent in 2012-13 and an up from 44 percent five years ago.