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NEWS RELEASES 2006-07 :: AUGUST 29, 2006


Note from the College Board:
"Media and others often rank states, districts and schools on the basis of SAT scores despite repeated warnings that such rankings are invalid. The SAT is a strong indicator of trends in the college-bound population, but it should never be used alone for such comparisons because demographics and other non-school factors can have a strong effect on scores. If ranked, schools and states that encourage students to apply to college may be penalized because scores tend to decline with a rise in percentage of test-takers."

North Carolina students continued to close the gap between the state and the national average scores on the SAT college entrance exam, and the scores of most racial minorities improved in 2006, according to results provided today by the College Board. North Carolina has narrowed the gap between it and the nation from 53 points in 1990 to 13 points in 2006.

North Carolina countered the national downward trend in scores by posting a two-point gain in math (from 511 to 513), but critical reading scores declined by four points (from 499 to 495) in North Carolina. Seventy-one percent of North Carolina high school seniors took the SAT, a decrease from the 74 percent participation rate of 2005. Data reported today included results from public and private schools in North Carolina.

Scores nationwide were down. The national average score (critical reading and math) on the SAT fell from 1028 to 1021 due to a five-point drop in critical reading (from 508 to 503) and a two-point drop in math (from 520 to 518).

North Carolina continued to outpace the Southeast. In 1990, the state's score was 25 points lower than the Southeast average score. In 2006, North Carolina's score is seven points higher than the Southeast score. The Southeast region score includes scores from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

Among the "SAT States," those states where more than 50 percent of their public and private school students take the SAT, North Carolina had both the largest five-year gain (16 points) and the largest 10-year gain (32 points). There are 23 SAT states.

North Carolina results were released today by State Superintendent June Atkinson and State Board of Education Chairman Howard Lee at a news conference in Raleigh. The SAT is one of the major college entrance requirements for high school students and is the entrance exam most often taken in North Carolina.

"North Carolinians can look at our state's performance on the SAT over the past few years and be proud that our state has out-performed the nation in the amount of points gained over time," said State Superintendent June Atkinson. "By encouraging a high participation rate and demonstrating strong improvements for minority students over time, our state has shown that we are raising expectations for educational achievement for all.

"While the SAT and AP results released today are not intended to rank states, they are a good indicator of a positive direction in North Carolina," said State Board Chairman Lee. "Every racial minority group was much more likely to participate in AP courses in 2006 and to pass these very challenging exams for college credit. This shows our efforts are working to raise aspirations and performance for all."

Minority students' performance is up
This year, Asian, Black and Hispanic students all posted notable gains on the SAT, while White and American Indian students scored lower than in 2005. Asian students gained 13 points overall to a total of 1064. Black students gained an average of six points overall and posted a total average score of 857. Hispanic students scored seven points over the 2005 Hispanic performance for a total of 967.

In past years, White and Asian students have scored higher than any other racial/ethnic groups in North Carolina and were the only groups to have exceeded the United States average (1021) in 2006. White students in 2006 scored lower than in the previous year, losing 3 points for a score of 1058. American Indian students' scores were six points lower in 2006 (922).

Writing added to the SAT in 2006
The College Board made significant changes to the SAT in 2006. The SAT previously had two sections: verbal and math. Today, it has three sections: critical reading, math and writing. Because the total score that reflects all three sections is not comparable to prior years' performance, subtotal scores (reflecting only critical reading and math scores) are used throughout this document.

North Carolina's average writing score is 485. The nation's average writing score was 497. North Carolina's average grand total score (including critical reading, math and writing) in 2006 is 1493, compared to 1518 for the nation. The highest possible grand total score is 2400 – 800 points per section.

North Carolina's writing score was 16th among the 23 SAT states. In critical reading, North Carolina's score was 15th among SAT states. In math, North Carolina's score was 10th among SAT states.

AP results provided
In addition to releasing SAT score information, The College Board also provides details about students' performance on Advanced Placement (AP) exams. Not only did North Carolina have a 7.4 percent increase in the number of students taking AP exams for both public and private schools, but the number of passing scores (3-5 on a scale of 1-5) increased by 7.5 percent. A total of 41,038 students took 76,578 AP exams. Participation in the AP program was especially pronounced among Hispanic and Asian students. Access to AP courses is important as an indicator of future college success. Students who take these college-level courses are more likely to complete a bachelor's degree in four years or less, according to The College Board's research.

For more information, please contact the NC Department of Public Instruction's Communications division, 919.807.3450.

2006 SAT Report

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.