NEWS RELEASES 2010-11 :: SEPTEMBER 13, 2010


North Carolina students have shown the largest 10 year gain on the SAT among the states where the test is the most commonly used college entrance exam, according to The College Board's annual SAT report released today. North Carolina students improved their combined reading and mathematics scores on the SAT by 20 points over the past decade. Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have at least 50 percent of their students taking the exam.

North Carolina's score is nine points behind the national average SAT score. This difference is the smallest between the state and the nation in many years. In 1990, for example, the gap was 53 points and in 1972, the gap was 83 points.

The SAT score in North Carolina is 1008 when the average scores on the critical reading and mathematics segments of the test are combined. Scores moved up in critical reading by two points to 497. Math scores stayed at 511, for the third consecutive year. On the writing test – which has been given as a part of the SAT since March 2005 – North Carolina students earned an average score of 477, a three-point change from 2009 when it was 480.

Nationally, students have lost two points overall on the combined critical reading and mathematics tests in the past 10 years. The national average score is 1017, reading (501) and math (516) combined. Writing scores nationally were 492 in 2010, and experienced a one-point change from 2009 when the average was 493.

"With Race to the Top funds and continued investment in our Career and College: Ready, Set, Go program, we will push our schools to better prepare more students for what comes after high school graduation," said Governor Bev Perdue. "We must give students the educational foundation they need to not only get in to college, but also to complete the degree course they came to receive."

The 2010 SAT report showed North Carolina had a larger number of students, 57,841, take the SAT than any other class in the state's history. A total of 63 percent of the state's 2010 high school graduates took the SAT. Thirty-six percent of the North Carolina SAT takers were racial or ethnic minorities.

The SAT is not a required test for high school students, and students generally assume the costs and decide when they will take the college entrance exam. Nationally, 47 percent of the Class of 2010 took the SAT.

The test scores reported today are based on the most recent SAT taken by public and private school graduating seniors in 2010. Although the SAT report focuses on all students in public and private schools, the performance of public school students only also was reported. North Carolina public school students improved by two points in critical reading and went down by one point in mathematics. Public school students' writing scores, as with all students' scores, went down three points.

When only public school students are considered, North Carolina's average math score was 511. In critical reading, the score was 494 for North Carolina public school students, four points lower than the nation's average score for public school students. On the writing exam, North Carolina public school students earned an average score of 474. Nationally, public school students scored an average of 488 on the writing exam. Nationally, 37 percent of public school students in the Class of 2010 took the SAT compared with 56 percent of North Carolina public school students.

"I congratulate the Class of 2010 for a strong performance on the SAT," said State Superintendent June Atkinson. "Our scores over time have shown that more students are on the right track for success in college. We know we have areas for improvement, but I am pleased that more students are preparing to continue their education after high school."

In addition to SAT performance, The College Board also reported Advanced Placement (AP) test performance, another measure of college-readiness. On the AP tests, North Carolina students posted increased participation rates and a higher percentage of passing scores, similar to last year's performance improvements. AP participation in 2010 was 49,059 test takers (up 3.1 percent from 2009). Students took 92,334 tests, a 3.3 percent increase from last year. The number of scores in the 3-5 range (considered high enough to qualify for college credit at most colleges and universities) was 54,807, which is a 4.2 percent increase from last year's results.

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

Complete North Carolina 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 160 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.