SAT Scores Drop, Achievement Gap Widens

South Carolina student performance on the 2009 SAT dropped by 9 points to a lowest-in-the-South average score of 1452, according to an S.C. Policy Council analysis of the 2009 College Board report released today. South Carolina students fell further behind their peers during 2009 as students scored 57 points behind the national average of 1509. That gap expanded by 7 points, or 14 percent, over 2008.

The achievement gap between African-American and white students in South Carolina likewise grew by 5 points. African-American test scores dropped by 10 points – from 1250 to 1240 – while scores for white students declined by 5 points from 1541 to 1536. The resulting gap leaves a 296 point margin between test scores for the state’s two largest ethnic groups.

South Carolina’s composite SAT score of 1452 was among the lowest in the country, higher than only the District of Columbia, Hawaii and Maine. Just 10 of the state’s 85 public school districts exceeded the national average.

Anderson District 3 scored the highest, with an average score of 1620. However, just 7 students – 6 percent of the district – took the SAT. York District 4 was the state’s best performer among districts with more than 100 students taking the test. Its district average was 1586.

Despite the success of York District 4, its performance failed to match the state average scores posted by multiple Southeastern states including Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Key findings of the College Board’s 2009 SAT results for South Carolina:

  • Public schools fell further behind the national average
    • The state average SAT score was 1452 in 2009. This was 57 points behind the national average of 1509. In 2008, S.C. was 50 points behind the national average.
  • The best public district failed to achieve the state average of 5 Southeastern states
    • York District 4 was the state’s best performing district with an average SAT score of 1586 (excluding Anderson District 3 as just 7 students took the test). This score failed to meet even the state average of five neighboring states including Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.
  • Public school performance again trailed private/religious school performance
    • South Carolina public schools scored an average of 1445. Private schools scored an average of 63 points higher at 1508. Religiously affiliated schools scored an average of 117 points higher at 1562.
  • Performance gap between African-American and white students widened
    • African-American test scores dropped by 10 points – from 1250 to 1240. White student performance dropped by 5 points to 1536. That leaves a 296 point gap between the average African-American and white student score in the state. In 2008 the gap was 291 points

Nothing in the foregoing should be construed as an attempt to aid or hinder passage of any legislation. Copyright 2009. South Carolina Policy Council Education Foundation, 1323 Pendleton Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29201. Visit the Policy Council Facebook page at www.facebook.com/scpolicycouncil or Twitter at www.twitter.com/scpolicycouncil.

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