BHS shines, WHS lags on SAT, AP

BLYTHEWOOD/WINNSBORO- The 2019 Blythewood High School SAT scores exceeded the state and national averages.

Meantime, Westwood and Fairfield Central high schools reported significant declines in their SAT results, according to recently released data from the S.C. Department of Education.

Blythewood High averaged 1,051, up slightly from 1,048, in 2018, with 350 students (72.5 percent) taking the college entrance exam. Blythewood students bested national averages in the district (1,108), state (1,024) and nation (1,039).

Westwood High’s average SAT score fell 14 points from 960 in 2018 to 946 in 2019.

Fairfield Central High School fell 56 points from 983 in 2018 to 927 in 2019, placing the school in the bottom 25 percent among 231 South Carolina schools reporting.

Richland Two spokeswoman Libby Roof didn’t specifically address Westwood’s declining scores, noting via email that teachers use a variety of tools to gauge student achievement.

“Richland Two doesn’t rely on the SAT and AP exams as the sole indicators of student achievement,” she said. “These assessments don’t provide teachers with the standard or strand-level results that are needed to make informed instructional decisions.”

Administered by The College Board, the SAT is the primary college admissions test used by colleges and universities. It is accepted by all institutions of higher learning, according to The College Board’s website.

Blythewood High had the highest percentage of students taking the SAT at 72.5 percent or 350 of 483 students. Westwood followed at 60.9 percent, or 182 of 299.

Thirty-eight (38) percent or 62 of 163 Fairfield Central high school students took the SAT.

Reached by phone Friday, district superintendent Dr. J.R. Green said he would call The Voice back because he was speaking to someone on the other line.

The Voice, however, didn’t receive a return call as of press time, and a subsequent email seeking comment hadn’t received a response either.

Board chairman William Frick could not be reached.

AP Scores

AP scores followed a similar trend, with Blythewood High students scoring well while Westwood and Fairfield Central high schools struggled.

South Carolina requires districts to provide AP courses in all secondary schools.

In 2019, 68 percent of Blythewood High AP test scores were 3 or better on the exam’s five-point scale.

Thirty-nine (39) percent of Westwood AP test scores were 3 or better, while in Fairfield the figure stood at 15 percent, according to Department of Education figures.

Students scoring a 3 are considered qualified to take college-level courses.

Whether a college opts to honor AP scores for college credit is up to individual schools, which set their own policies, according to The College Board.

For example, neither Clemson nor the University of South Carolina offer credit for AP exams, but both schools do offer placement into higher level courses based on a student’s AP score, The College Board’s website states.

Coastal Carolina University, the College of Charleston and Winthrop University are examples of schools that do provide AP college credit, according to the site.

A score of 4 on the AP exam indicates a student is well-qualified and a score of 5 indicates someone who is extremely well-qualified, according to the Department of Education.

Improving Success Rate

Roof noted that Blythewood and Ridge View high schools implemented the National Math and Science Initiative, or NMSI, College Readiness Program, which had an impact on AP scores.

“These schools have seen improvement in the number of students taking AP courses, as well as in the success rate,” she said. “This year the program is expanding to include Spring Valley High and Westwood High.”

In the state, South Carolina students bested the national average of percentage of exams receiving a score of 3 or better in eight of 10 different tested subjects, according to the Department of Education.

The Voice was unable to reach Fairfield Superintendent Dr. J. R. Green or School Board Chair William Frick for comment.

Molly Spearman, state superintendent of education, said South Carolina saw an “unprecedented number” of students who took the AP exam in 2018-2019.

“South Carolina’s continued national prominence on Advanced Placement is testament to the rigorous instruction delivered by teachers across our state,” Molly Spearman, state superintendent of education, said in a statement.