Local students outperform state averages

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Beaufort County School District seniors – members of the district’s first graduating class where 100 percent of its students took the ACT college entrance exam – scored above South Carolina averages in 2016.

The composite 2016 ACT average for all Beaufort County School District seniors was 18.7, compared to the state public and private school combined average of 18.5.

Scores range from a low of 1 to a high of 36.

District averages were also higher for combined public and private school averages in all four ACT exams used to determine composite scores.

Among individual district high schools, Battery Creek High 11th-graders’ 2016 composite average score was 16.4, Beaufort High’s was 19, Bluffton High’s was 19.3, Hilton Head Island High’s was 19.5 and Whale Branch Early College High’s was 16.5

The ACT is a group of curriculum-based achievement exams designed to measure the academic skills taught in schools and deemed important for success in first-year college courses.

The General Assembly approved mandatory ACT testing for all 11th-graders in 2014.

Like the six other states that instated similar requirements, South Carolina saw declines in average 2016 ACT scores reported for seniors because all of them had taken the ACT as juniors in 2015.

In the Beaufort County School District, scores were reported for 1,259 seniors in 2016 compared to 591 the previous year.

Previously, the decision to take the ACT was optional for South Carolina high school students. Students will take the test whether or not they plan to attend college.

Students do not have to pass the ACT test to receive a high school diploma.

“These 2016 scores amount to a baseline year for Beaufort County because it’s our first senior class where everyone took the ACT,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss. “While our seniors scored above the state average, our goal is to exceed the national average and ultimately be among the nation’s leaders.”

State and national testing experts attributed the drop in seniors’ scores from 2015 to 2016 to the state’s newly instituted 100 percent-tested requirement.

Moss stressed the importance of high school students taking courses recommended by both the ACT and SAT.  Those courses include four years of English; three or more years of mathematics, including algebra I and II and geometry; three or more years of social studies, including American history and government and world history; and three or more years of natural sciences, such as general, physical and earth science, biology, chemistry and physics.