The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY T. KEUNG HUI khui@new­sob­ T. Keung Hui: 919- 829- 4534, @nck­hui

North Carolina’s av­er­age score on the SAT exam rose 17 points to 1,098 — 30 points above the na­tional av­er­age.

The av­er­age score for North Carolina high school stu­dents on the SAT exam shot up 17 points this year, ac­cord­ing to new re­sults re­leased last week by the Col­lege Board.

North Carolina’s Class of 2018. in­clud­ing pub­lic, pri­vate and home­school stu­dents, posted an av­er­age score of 1,098 on the SAT exam, com­pared to 1,081 for the Class of 2017. The state’s av­er­age score on the re­vamped SAT is now 30 points above the na­tional av­er­age of 1,068, which was up eight points from the prior year.

Look­ing at only pub­lic school stu­dents, North Carolina’s av­er­age score rose 16 points to 1,090 — 41 points above the na­tional av­er­age of 1,049. Re­sults for in­di­vid­ual North Carolina school dis­tricts and pub­lic high schools have not yet been re­leased by the state.

State Su­per­in­ten­dent Mark John­son said in a news re­lease that the lat­est re­sults are an en­cour­ag­ing sign that more North Carolina stu­dents are grad­u­at­ing from high school well pre­pared for post-se­condary ed­u­ca­tion or other good op­tions to gain skills needed for 21st cen­tury jobs.

“Ev­ery stu­dent should, Mark John­son and must, have the op­por­tu­nity to go to a four-year in­sti­tu­tion if that’s what they want,” John­son said. “But it’s not the only path­way to suc­cess.”

The av­er­age state score on the read­ing por­tion for pub­lic school stu­dents rose eight points to 550. It also in­creased eight points in the math sec­tion to 540.

The Col­lege Board says 79 per­cent of all North Carolina SAT test-tak­ers are on track to get at least a C in English in their first year in col­lege. The per­cent­age is 55 per­cent in math. Both col­lege readi­ness marks are up from the prior year.

The SAT scores of­fer more pos­i­tive news than the re­cently re­leased ACT re­sults, which showed that North Carolina’s av­er­age score re­mained un­changed and was be­low the na­tional av­er­age. But there are rea­sons for the dif­fer­ence.

The state has re­quired high school stu­dents to take the ACT in their ju­nior year since the 201213 school year. As par­tic­i­pa­tion has risen, North Carolina’s av­er­age score and rank among the states dropped.

With state lead­ers re­quir­ing the ACT, fewer stu­dents are tak­ing the SAT since they’d have to pay to take the test un­less they got the fee waived. The state’s par­tic­i­pa­tion rate for the SAT among pub­lic school stu­dents has dropped from 70 per­cent in 2004 to 49 per­cent this year, although it’s up from 47 per­cent last year. Count­ing pri­vate school and home­school stu­dents, the state’s par­tic­i­pa­tion rate is 52 per­cent.

Back in 1996 when the SAT was the dom­i­nant exam for North Carolina stu­dents, the state’s av­er­age SAT score was ranked 48th na­tion­ally and be­hind many states with lower par­tic­i­pa­tion rates. North Carolina is now ranked 25th na­tion­ally and ahead of many states with higher par­tic­i­pa­tion rates.

Among neigh­bor­ing states, North Carolina’s av­er­age score is higher than South Carolina (1,070) and Ge­or­gia (1,064). But it’s be­low Vir­ginia (1,117), which has a higher par­tic­i­pa­tion rate, and Ten­nessee (1,231), where only 6 per­cent of se­niors took the exam.

Col­lege Board of­fi­cials cau­tioned against com­par­ing states at a Wed­nes­day news con­fer­ence.

More than 2.1 mil­lion stu­dents in the Class of 2018 took the SAT com­pared to 1.9 mil­lion stu­dents for the ACT.

Go to https://re­ports. col­lege­ suite-pro­gram-re­sults to view the 2018 SAT re­sults.

The Col­lege Board over­hauled the SAT in March 2016 with changes that low­ered the max­i­mum score to 1,600, elim­i­nated ob­scure vo­cab­u­lary words, dropped the penalty for guess­ing and made the es­say op­tional.

But the new exam has been em­broiled in con­tro­versy.

High school stu­dents around the coun­try de­manded that the Col­lege Board rescore the re­sults of the SAT exam that was given in June af­ter the scores came in lower than ex­pected. The Col­lege Board told stu­dents that be­cause ver­sions of the exam given on dif­fer­ent dates are eas­ier than oth­ers, they use a sta­tis­ti­cal process called “equat­ing” to grade the an­swers on a curve.

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