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NEWS RELEASES 2007-08 :: AUGUST 28, 2007


SAT and Advanced Placement Results Demonstrate NC Students Preparing for Further Education

North Carolina's performance on the SAT dropped in 2007, mirroring the nation's overall change in performance on the college entrance exam. Although North Carolina's average score slipped, the state's participation rate increased to 71 percent of seniors and is now 11th in the nation.

Despite the drop in scores for this year, College Board officials called North Carolina's long-term trends on the SAT a "bellwether for the South" because the state has managed to increase scores over time while substantially increasing the percentage of students taking the test, especially among student groups that have not tended to attend college in past years. Jenny Oren Krugman, vice president of the College Board Southern Regional office, made this announcement when she met with state education leaders this month.

"The number and percentage of North Carolina high school seniors who take the SAT show us that students are planning for education beyond high school," said State Superintendent June Atkinson. "While we would like to see scores increase every year, this development is a positive indicator for North Carolina's future."

State Board of Education Chairman Howard Lee said that the State Board of Education's recently approved new high school graduation requirements are a recognition that more students are planning for some type of education beyond high school. "The strong SAT participation rates show us that students want education beyond high school," Lee said. "Our new standards are on track with students' plans for their future. Whether students want to attend a community college program or pursue a university degree, they will need more focused preparation than past generations."

The new core high school graduation requirements go into effect with the ninth graders entering high school for the first time in 2009-10 and are designed to help students better prepare for educational opportunities beyond high school.

Gov. Mike Easley, the North Carolina General Assembly and the State Board of Education have worked hard to bring more college-level courses to high school students who are ready for more challenging work. Learn and Earn, Learn and Earn Online, early and middle college programs, as well as Advanced Placement coursework, give students the chance to earn college credit or placement while still in high school. The goal is for students of any economic means to be able to complete education beyond the high school level so that they are better prepared for life in the 21st century.

North Carolina's math score on the SAT dropped four points from 2006 (from 513 last year to 509 in 2007). The critical reading score stayed the same, 495. The average writing score was 485, a three-point drop from 2006 when the writing test was first included in the SAT.

Scores nationwide dropped for a second consecutive year. The national average score on math dropped by three points to 515 while the critical reading score dropped by one point to 502. The national writing score for 2007 is 494, a three-point decrease over 2006.

North Carolina's average combined score (critical reading and math) is 1,004 and is 13 points below the national average of 1,017. Among the 22 states where more than 50 percent of students take the SAT, North Carolina has gained 26 points over the past 10 years. Only 12 of those states made gains over the past decade. Ten of the SAT states lost points during that time.

Among the Southeastern states, North Carolina continued to have an average score that is higher than the Southeast mean score of 999. In 2007, North Carolina's average score is five points higher than the region. The Southeast region score includes scores from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

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. Test-taking patterns in the state show a more diverse group of students are planning to go to college. The number of American Indian students taking the test increased by 5.6 percent compared to last year; Asian students increased by 15.6 percent; White students increased by 2.8 percent; and Black students increased their test-taking number by 7.4 percent. Hispanic students showed a large percentage increase in test taking, up by 21.8 percent.

American Indian and Hispanic students were the only racial groups to increase their average SAT scores, up by 9 points and one point respectively.

In addition to the SAT results, the College Board today also released information about Advanced Placement (AP) course-taking and performance nationally and by state. Although racial minority students still make up a small percentage of the students taking AP courses overall, their numbers grew in 2007 in North Carolina. White students were 32,754 of the 43,152 students who took an AP exam, but Hispanic students increased their participation by 9.9 percent, and their number of passing scores on the AP exams increased also by 16.6 percent. The number of American Indian students taking AP exams remained the same as in 2006, but they increased the number of exams they took and their passing scores went up by 44.4 percent. The number of Asian students taking AP tests increased by 10.9 percent, and the number of passing scores increased by 20 percent. The number of Black students taking the AP exams decreased by 2.1 percent, but the number of passing scores went up by 16.2 percent.

A total of 43,152 students took a total of 81,151 AP tests. Access to Advanced Placement courses and exams is an important 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.

2007 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.