09/02/05 — SAT scores fall slightly in Wayne

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SAT scores fall slightly in Wayne

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 2, 2005 1:46 PM

Wayne County students' SAT scores dropped an average of three points for the 2004-05 school year, even though the number of students taking the test was above the national average.

The College Board released data this week for 12th-grade students who took the Scholastic Aptitude Test anytime during their high school years. The number of students taking the test in Wayne County Public Schools, 54.4 percent, rose by a percentage point over the previous year.

After posting a 20-point gain for the 2003-04 school year, students in Wayne County Public Schools who took the SAT averaged a loss of three points on the composite score. Verbal scores also fell by three points, while the total math score remained unchanged, to produce a combined score of 968.

The growth trend shows Wayne County's average score up more than the national and state averages over the past 15 years, officials say. In North Carolina, there was a four-point increase to the previous year's scores, with a two-point gain in the national numbers.

"We are accustomed to seeing year-to-year fluctuations in the test data," said Dr. Craig McFadden, assistant superintendent for accountability. "It is important to look at test scores over time."

Since 1990, local scores have increased by 88 points. During the same period, the national average rose 27 points and the state numbers went up 62 points. That places Wayne students 61 points ahead of growth in the nation and 26 points ahead of growth in the state, McFadden said.

The SAT scores also reflect a black-white achievement gap that is smaller than it is across the state and nation. In 2004, officials say black students in Wayne County scored above their counterparts across the country on the math test.

Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor said he is pleased with the overall increase and that the gap is closing over time.

"The gains made over the years reflect positively on best practices being utilized daily in our classrooms," he said. "We will continue to strive toward further improvement for the future, understanding that systemic change takes time."

Among neighboring counties, Wayne's overall score is above Wilson, Lenoir, Cumberland, Pender, Sampson, Nash, Duplin, Edgecomb, Bladen and Jones counties, officials said. Individually, Eastern Wayne High School's math scores are above the national average and 18 points higher than the state scores. The school's total score was also above the state average.

Charles B. Aycock High School also had higher total scores than those for the state average.

A new version of the SAT test was introduced this year. The Class of 2005 was the last class to take the older version of the test.

The latest test features higher-level math, additional reading passages and a new writing section with an essay.