Mixed Result on Local Test Scores

school-table-copy

BLYTHEWOOD/WINNSBORO – Data released last month by the State Department of Education show mixed results in national standardized test scores for local schools in 2016.

Of the four local schools, Blythewood High School out-performed statewide results in the SAT, ACT and Advanced Placement (AP) exam.

SAT SCORES

Three of the four local schools – Blythewood High School (BHS), Fairfield Central High School (FCHS) and Ridge View High School (RVHS) – showed significant gains in SAT scores.

RVHS had the most significant improvement in SAT scores – 43 points – and BHS had a 22-point improvement in scores over 2015. FCHS continued its upward trend in SAT scores with a 16-point increase this year on top of a 63-point increase last year.

However, Westwood High School’s SAT scores dropped 48 points in 2016 after increasing 33 points in 2015.

Asked what could have influenced the fluctuation in Westwood’s 2016 SAT scores, Dr. John Arnold, Director of Accountability and Assessment for Richland Two School District, replied in an email to the Voice that fluctuations in test scores, whether SAT, ACT, or other national assessment, are not unusual, and can be more pronounced at a single school because of the relatively small number of students tested and where each student’s performance has a greater impact on the school’s performance.

The State Department of Education shows a statewide decrease of 16 percent in the number of public school students taking the SAT in 2016. The number of FCHS students taking the SAT dropped from 36 in 2015 to 19 resulting in only about 10 percent of the senior class taking the SAT in 2016. RVHS had 21 percent fewer students taking the SAT in 2016, while the numbers for BHS and WHS declined only slightly.

Deputy Superintendent for Academics at Fairfield County School District, Dr. Claudia Edwards, attributed the low numbers of students at FCHS taking the SAT to the fact that the State requires students in their third year of high school to take the ACT and pays for the cost of the ACT. Therefore many students elect to use their ACT score for college admission. Students can take the SAT if they are also applying to colleges that don’t accept ACT scores.

SAT is a standardized test often used in the college admissions process. The current SAT consists of three 800 point sections testing English/language arts, mathematics and writing, with the highest possible score being 2400.

ACT SCORES

The ACT is also used in the college admissions process and consists of subject area tests in English, mathematics, reading and science. The ACT includes 215 multiple-choice questions with 36 as the highest possible score. There was a large increase locally and statewide in the number of students taking the ACT in 2016. Beginning last year, all students in South Carolina are now required to take the ACT in eleventh grade. But ACT scores for all four local schools as well as statewide are down in 2016.

RVHS scores showed the least decline with 0.8 points; BHS dropped 1.6 points; WHS dropped 2.2 points and FCHS, 2.4 points.

AP SCORES

College bound students can also take Advanced Placement (AP) courses in grades 11 or 12. These classes prepare students for the national AP examinations. Students who score 3, 4, or 5 on an AP exam are generally considered qualified to receive credit for the equivalent course(s) at colleges and universities that give credit for AP exams.

BHS had the highest number of students (63 percent) scoring 3 to 5 on the AP exam; RVHS was next with 49 percent, and WHS had 34 percent.