Fairfield County, State SAT Scores in Decline

The Fairfield County School District lost 27 points on the composite SAT scores by graduating seniors in 2012, according to data released this week by the College Board through the S.C. Department of Education. Statewide, numbers fell 5 points, while the national average was down 2 points.

Fairfield test takers saw their biggest drop in math, where seniors lost 13 points between 2011 and 2012, falling from 431 to 418. Seniors also lost 8 points in the critical reading category and 6 points in writing. Overall, the district’s 2012 composite score was 1222, down from 1249 in 2011. More Fairfield seniors took the test in 2012 – 62 in 2012 versus 42 in 2011 – but only 30 percent of eligible students took the exam.

Across South Carolina, 52 percent of eligible public school students took the SAT in 2012 (that percentage for all students – public and private schools – was not available from the College Board). All students – public and private – statewide lost 1 point in critical reading and 2 points each in math and writing between 2011 and 2012.

In neighboring school districts, Chester lost 66 points over last year, Newberry lost 52 and Richland 2 lost 40. Districts with the biggest losses since 2011 were Marion 7, which lost 151 points, and Clarendon 2, which lost 126. Greenwood 51 made the biggest improvement in South Carolina, upping their scores by 80 points.

Mick Zais, State Superintendent of Education, raised issue with the state’s lagging scores, particularly in critical reading and writing.

“Like the other college admission test, ACT, the SAT is not a measure of school effectiveness,” Zais said. “However, within the student population taking the SAT is another data point confirming a troubling trend: there is a wide reading gap between South Carolina and the nation.”

In South Carolina, the average critical reading score was 481, math was 488 and writing was 462 compared to the national average for all schools of 496, 514 and 488.

In the public school sector, seniors graduating in South Carolina scored a composite of 1422, down 5 points from 2011. The national average was 1477, down 4 points from 2011. Critical reading was 477, math was 487 and writing was 458. The national public school averages were 491 for critical reading, 506 for math, and 481 for writing.

“Addressing the reading gap in elementary school must be our top priority, because reading is fundamental to everything else in a student’s education. If students cannot read, they will not succeed in school,” Zais said. “To accomplish this goal, we must transform education from a one-size-fits-all system to one that delivers a personalized and customized education to each student.”

All South Carolina colleges and universities accept either SAT or ACT scores for admission. The five South Carolina universities receiving the most scores from all South Carolina SAT test-takers were the University of South Carolina (Columbia), Clemson, College of Charleston, Coastal Carolina and Winthrop. Eighty-nine percent of the state’s SAT participants said they hope to earn a two-year degree or higher in their postsecondary career. Their most popular fields for majors are Health Professions, Business, Engineering, Visual and Performing Arts and Education.