NEWS RELEASES 2011-12 :: SEPTEMBER 14, 2011


Sixty-seven percent of North Carolina high school seniors in 2011, or 62,149 students, took the SAT college admissions exam, scoring an average of 1,001 when the Critical Reading and Math scores are combined, according to The College Board's annual SAT report released today. This is a decrease of three points over the 2010 scores. The national average combined Critical Reading and Math score for 2011 was 1,011, a decline of four points from the previous year.

In North Carolina, Critical Reading scores decreased by two points to 493 while Math scores declined by one point to 508. The average Writing score in 2011 was 474 – a drop of two points from the previous year. For the nation, Critical Reading decreased three points to 497; Math declined one point to 514; and Writing dropped two points to 489.

"I'm pleased to see that a large percentage of our graduating seniors are considering pursuing their education after they graduate from high school," State Superintendent June Atkinson said. "I hope that as North Carolina's high school graduation rate continues to increase so will the number of students seeking education beyond high school."

The 67 percent of seniors taking the SAT in 2011 represented the largest group of graduating seniors in North Carolina's history to take the college entrance exam. This was an increase of 4.4 percentage points from 2010. North Carolina has been considered an SAT state in that the vast majority of students voluntarily take this college entrance exam when considering post-secondary education.

The significant increase is due in part to the fact that in 2011 the College Board changed its rules for reporting SAT scores and began including all scores for test administrations through June 2011. In previous years, March was the cut-off date for scores inclusion. This year's report includes recalculated 2010 scores, where noted, as well as the 2011 scores for comparison purposes. The decline in North Carolina's mean score is not uncommon because more students of varied academic backgrounds are represented in the test-taking pool.

In addition to SAT performance, The College Board also reported Advanced Placement (AP) test performance, another measure of college-readiness. North Carolina's trend of increased AP participation and performance continued in 2011. The number of North Carolina students taking Advanced Placement courses and the ensuing exam increased 1.8 percent to 49,958. The total number of examinations taken increased by 1.9 percent to 94,061; and the number of students scoring a 3, 4, or 5 (considered high enough to qualify for college credit at most colleges and universities) increased by 4.5 percent to 57,248. In the past five years, AP exam participation has increased by 15.9 percent and the number of students scoring an exam score of 3, 4 or 5 has increased 21.6 percent.

"I am so proud of our high school students for taking advantage of Advanced Placement courses. Students see the value of these rigorous college-level courses, not only in how they can improve performance on the SAT but also the course credit they can receive before they even step on a college campus," Atkinson said. She went on to add that teachers should also be commended for their instruction in these courses and preparing their students to perform well on the exams.


Please note: Because the College Board changed its rules for reporting SAT scores in 2011, only 2011 SAT results are reported for districts and high schools. In 2010, the College Board began including students in its annual cohort for test administrations through March as well as through June, but only reported scores through March. In previous years, the cohort only included students who were tested through March. Scores reported by the College Board in 2011 included all test-takers through June, and are therefore not comparable with released district and schools' scores from previous years.

(xls, 193kb)

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.