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NEWS RELEASES 2008-09 :: AUGUST 26, 2008


NC's Advanced Placement participation and performance also up

North Carolina's average SAT score in 2008 increased, bringing the state to within 10 points of the nation's average, according to information released today by The College Board. North Carolina's average SAT score was 1,007, and the nation's was 1,017.

"We are extremely pleased with today's news," said State Superintendent June Atkinson. "Students have been working diligently and challenging themselves with higher level courses. This strategy takes time, but it is effective. In 1998, it seemed we would never reach the national average. Today, that goal is within sight."

North Carolina's improvements on the SAT were reported along with performance on Advanced Placement (AP) tests, another measure of college-readiness. On the AP tests, North Carolina students increased their participation, the number of tests they took and the number of tests they passed. The number of participants was up by 5.9 percent with a total of 45,704 students taking more than 85,000 exams. The percentage of AP exams that received passing scores (generally considered scores of 3, 4 or 5) also increased by 5.1 percent to 49,508.

Among the "SAT states," those with more than 50 percent of students taking the SAT, North Carolina is tied with Vermont as the state with the second largest 10-year improvement in average scores. South Carolina has the largest improvement during that time, although its average score, 985, is lower than North Carolina's.

The number of test takers in the state increased to 56,442, a 2.4 percent increase over 2007. The percentage of students taking the SAT in North Carolina was 63 percent in 2008, according to recently revised projections of state participation rates. This rate places the state 15th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Because The College Board revised the participation rate calculations in 2008, the organization cautions against comparisons with prior years' rates. The College Board uses an enrollment projection provided by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

North Carolina's math score on the SAT gained 2 points in 2008 from 509 in 2007 to 511 in 2008. Nationally, the math score in 2008 was 515, the same as the 2007 score.

North Carolina's critical reading score on the SAT was 496 in 2008, up one point from 495. The nation stayed the same in reading, with an average score of 502.

Scores nationwide have dropped or remained static for the last three years.

Among the Southeastern states, North Carolina continues to have an average score that is higher than the Southeast mean of 999. The Southeast region score includes scores from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

The number of students taking the SAT increased across all identified racial categories, although performance varied among the racial categories. Asian, Black, Puerto Rican and White students increased their average scores. American Indian and Other Hispanic students' scores dropped, and Mexican American students' scores stayed the same overall.

The SAT is one of the college admissions tests widely accepted and required by colleges and universities and the one most commonly taken in North Carolina. The other test, taken by 14 percent of North Carolina students (13,054), is the ACT. North Carolina students also increased their performance on the ACT college admissions exam in 2008, scoring two-tenths of a point higher than the national average, according to results released by the ACT earlier this month.

North Carolina students also out performed the nation on the ACT for the first time in at least five years. North Carolina's average composite score increased by 0.3 points from 2007 to 2008 and totaled 21.3 points. The national average composite score decreased by 0.1 points to 21.1 total points. The ACT considers a change of 0.3 points significant. The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score.

North Carolina leaders are focused on improving college access for students. Learn and Earn, Learn and Earn Online, the NC Virtual Public School and Advanced Placement courses give students the opportunity to earn college credit or placement while still in high school. The EARN Grants provide resources to help students afford college. The goal is for students of all economic means to be able to complete education beyond the high school level.

For more information on how North Carolina students performed on the SAT, ACT or AP tests, please contact the NC Department of Public Instruction's Division of Communications and Information, 919.807.3450.

District/High School Performance
(pdf, 385kb)

Gender/Race Overview
(pdf, 2.2mb)

Performance Trend
(pdf, 79kb)

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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.