FCHS gains 60 points on SAT, lags behind SC

WINNSBORO — Fairfield Central High School saw a noticeable increase from 2017 in its SAT results, leaping more than 60 points, according to figures released last week by the S.C. Department of Education.

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

In 2018, Fairfield’s average SAT score rose from 922 to 983. Forty-one of 198 seniors, or 20.7 percent, took 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 affect on a kids’ ability to be successful academically.”

Fifteen miles away at Blythewood High School, students averaged 1,048, scoring a point shy of the state average, but also shedding 10 points from last year’s school tally of 1,058.

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

At nearby Westwood High School, seniors averaged 970, creeping up four points from 966 last year, state data shows.

“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,” district spokeswoman Libby Roof said via email.

Roof said schools plan to use test results to assist in instructional planning.

“That being said, these assessments don’t provide teachers with the standard or strand-level results that are needed to make informed instructional decisions,” she said.

“Additionally, we avoid using SAT scores as a measure to compare our schools to each other,” Roof continued. “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 one statistic of note, a large percentage of Blythewood seniors took the SAT.

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, figures show.

“Students in the Class of 2018 and their parents decided whether or not to take the SAT,” Roof said. “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.”

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.

In 2016, Fairfield averaged 1,306 on the three-part test while the state averaged 1,484.