MYRTLE BEACH — Horry County Schools students made unprecedented gains on the 2013 SAT exam, scoring above state and national averages, and raising their scores in all three measured categories, according to statistics released Thursday by the College Board.
Horry County’s average composite score was 1512, up from 1482 in 2012, and 57 more students took the exam. The average composite score for all graduating seniors in the state was 1436, an increase of five points from 2012, while the national average for all students remained at 1498.
“We anticipated gains, but the gains we experienced exceeded our expectations and are unprecedented,” HCS Superintendent Cindy Elsberry said. “In reviewing our data, the students whose scores are reported with this year’s SATs were the most prepared test-takers that we have ever had.”
Those students took the highest volume of core content classes and significantly more Advanced Placement exams than any previous group of students in the district’s history, Elsberry said.
“We think we are beginning to see the impact of our enhanced efforts to counsel students and parents on the significance of taking more rigorous courses and being exposed to curriculum that is more challenging,” Elsberry said.
The SAT and the ACT are two standardized tests that are taken for entrance to college. All S.C. colleges and universities accept either score for admission.
AP courses offer students the rigor of college-level courses and allow them to earn college credit while still in high school, which can cut the cost of a college education.
The SAT measures critical reading, math and writing. Horry County students scored an average of 503 on critical reading, up from 490 in 2012; 523 in math, up from 515; and 486 in writing, up from 477. Their scores were above those of the state’s scores across the board and above the national average in all but writing, which was off by two points.
Eight of the reported 12 schools in Horry County scored higher than state and national averages, with Aynor High School up 84 points with a score of 1546 and Socastee High School up 77 points with a score of 1573. Scores for the other six high schools are: the Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology, 1508; the Academy for Technology and Academics, 1504; Carolina Forest, 1514; Loris, 1513; North Myrtle Beach, 1520; St. James, 1524.
Green Sea Floyds High School, at 1457, and Myrtle Beach High School, at 1466, scored higher than the state average. Conway High School scored 1425, raising its score 45 points from 2012.
This is the first year SAT scores have been available for HCS Early College High School, which became a full-fledged high school in 2012. Only 13 students took the SAT at the school, which received a score of 1384. Most Early College students focus on the ACT exam, rather than the SAT, because it is more connected to their programs, said Teal Harding, HCS spokeswoman, and the school has performed extremely well on both the High School Assessment Program and end-of-course exams.
“That SAT score is an anomaly,” Harding said. “The results don’t align with the performance of that school on other measures.”
Students in Georgetown County scored an average of 1379, up from 1364 in 2012, and 34 fewer students took the exam. They raised their scores in two of the three measured categories: Critical reading was at 462, up from 454 in 2012; 466 for math, down from 474; and 451 for writing, up from 436.
Waccamaw High School’s average composite score was 1497, up from 1459 in 2012. Andrews High School scored 1326, up from 1297; Georgetown High School scored 1323, up from 1275; and Carvers Bay High School scored 1257, down from 1338.
“Waccamaw High School’s students outpaced the state averages and were only one point lower than the national average,” said Patti Hammel, executive director for student performance and federal programs for Georgetown County School District. “Increases were noted at Andrews High School and Georgetown High School, as well. … We continue to prepare students to be college ready through the rigorous course offerings and test-taking preparations that the district provides.”
Advanced Placement exams
Students in the state also improved their performance on college-level AP exams, according to the report. The exams are graded on a scale of 1 to 5, with a score of 5 demonstrating the highest level of performance. Students can earn college credit at most colleges and universities with scores of 3, 4 or 5.
The percentage of public school-only students receiving a score of 3, 4 or 5 on AP exams increased 9.6 percent during the 2012-13 school year. The percentage of all S.C. students with at least a score of 3 increased by 8.7 percent. Participation among public school-only students increased 9.3 percent and among all students by 9 percent. South Carolina exceeded the national growth rates of 6.1 percent for public school-only students and 6 percent for all-students.
Contact VICKI GROOMS at 443-2401 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_VickiGrooms.