South Carolina SAT scores lag national average - - Columbia, South Carolina

South Carolina SAT scores lag national average

(Columbia) Aug. 31, 2004 -- The College Board says South Carolina seniors scored below the national average on the SAT.

The average score on the college entrance exam in South Carolina was 986 this year. That's down three points from last year and well below the national average of 1026 points.

The decrease again gave South Carolina the lowest scores in the nation. Georgia's average score was one point higher. Georgia had been ranked 50th for the past two years.

Even with the drop, South Carolina's SAT scores have risen 32 points since 1999. That's the best five-year improvement in the nation. National scores have risen an average of ten points since 1999.

Nine school districts in South Carolina had scores above the national average. Lexington District Five had the highest at 1078. District Five’s composite score of 1078 was 16 points higher than the district with the second highest score, Dillon Three. Dillon Three tested only 18 students, while District Five tested a total of 595 students. 

Irmo High’s composite was 1078, while Dutch Fork and Chapin High Schools had composites of 1077. A total of 265 students from Irmo took the SAT, while 199 students from Dutch Fork took the test and 131 from Chapin.  

Hampton District Two had the lowest average score at 779.

State Education Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum says the drop is to be expected after six years of steady progress. Tenenbaum said last week South Carolina has the highest improvement in the country, pointing to an increase of 32 points since 1999.

Tenenbaum released the state average last week.

Tenenbaum, who is seeking a seat in the US Senate, says the pressure of politics lead her to release the SAT results early. She says someone outside her department already leaked the information to the media. SAT averages for all states were scheduled to be released Tuesday.

The Democrat says she doesn't think the three-point drop in SAT scores will hurt her campaign. But Tenenbaum's Republican opponent, Congressman Jim DeMint, says the state's education system is in trouble and needs new ideas.

SAT scores have long been used as political tools in campaigns. Political scientists say with their pre-Labor Day release and easy-to-understand numbers, they seem almost ready-made for exploitation.

Updated 1:42pm by BrettWitt with AP

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