BHS in top 20% of SC SAT test takers

BLYTHEWOOD – While Blythewood High School seniors taking the SAT hovered just below the state average, the school ranked near the top in the number of test takers.

Blythewood High placed in the top 20 statewide at 71.1 percent, ranking 16th out of 230 schools, with 335 of 471 seniors taking the test, according to S.C. Department of Education figures released last week.

Other Richland 2 schools reported high percentages, ranging between 46 and 56 percent tested.

“Students in the Class of 2018 and their parents decided whether or not to take the SAT,” Richland 2 spokeswoman Libby Roof said via email. “We don’t have any data that would indicate why a greater percentage of students in one school chose to take the SAT than in another school.”

Blythewood seniors averaged 1,048, scoring a point shy of the state average. The school also shed 10 points from last year’s tally of 1,058, data shows

Blythewood’s tally this year was the second highest in Richland 2. Spring Valley High School led the district at 1,098.

Westwood High, meantime, struggled. The school averaged 970, creeping up four points from 966 last year.

“As the district’s total score is below the state average, we recognize there is room for growth and are committed to helping our students better prepare for this assessment,” Roof said. “That being said, these assessments don’t provide teachers with the standard or strand-level results that are needed to make informed instructional decisions.”

Slightly less than half – 168 of 342, or 49.1 percent – of seniors took the test, data shows.

“We avoid using SAT scores as a measure to compare our schools to each other,” Roof said. “The SAT is designed to gauge a student’s readiness to perform college level work. It is used by colleges and universities to compare the academic readiness of students and to make admission decisions.”

In tabulating SAT data, the Department of Education counted individual students only once, regardless of how many times they took the test. The most recent score was counted, figures show.

Accurate data comparisons to 2016 and before were not possible because the College Board, which administers the test, changed the format in 2017.

In 2017, the College Board, which administers the SAT, revised the test to score in two critical areas – evidence-based reading and writing, or ERW, and math, according to the Department of Education website.

The ERW portion replaced the English/Language Arts and Writing sections, which gave the SAT three components, the website states.

The test became a two-part test in 2017, broken down into Evidence-based Reading and Writing and Math.

While Richland 2 saw high percentages of test takers, the number of Fairfield County seniors taking the SAT continued to sag.

Only one in five Fairfield County seniors took the SAT in 2018, and those who did take the test averaged more than 80 points below the state average.

Fairfield Central High School climbed from 922 to 983, with 41 of 198 seniors – or 20.7 percent – taking the test, about the same as last year, state data shows.

Fairfield’s performance still fell 81 points behind the state average of 1,064. The national average was 1,049.

Dr. J.R. Green, district superintendent, couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.

In a prior interview with The Voice about the impact of per pupil revenues on student achievement, Green said that rural districts like Fairfield, where poverty tends to be high, tend to struggle academically.

He also noted student achievement is measured in more ways than how students score on standardized tests.

“The reality is there are students who can be successful, but not at a four-year institution,” Green told The Voice. “It doesn’t mean these kids aren’t sufficient. Poverty has an adverse effect on a kids’ ability to be successful academically.”