SAT, AP scores improve

SAT, AP scores improve
Posted on 09/27/2016
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Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Seniors’ SAT scores increase significantly;
AP performance improves to all-time high


BEAUFORT – District high school seniors’ average scores on the SAT college entrance exam increased significantly in 2016 while performance on college Advanced Placement exams improved to all-time highs, the College Board reported today. 

Average 2016 SAT scores for Beaufort County School District seniors improved by 22 points, from 1,422 in 2015 to 1,444 in 2016.  Looking at five-year trend data, the average score for district seniors is up 61 points from 1,383 to 1,444.

Advanced Placement – and the accompanying College Board exams that demonstrate mastery of the course material – let students earn college credit while still in high school.  Last school year, 55 percent of Beaufort County’s AP students scored 3 or better on the tests’ five-point scale, qualifying them for college credit.  That was up from 51 percent last year and up from 52 percent in 2012.  The district’s previous best performance was 54 percent in 2014.

“These results are tremendously encouraging,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss.  “In addition to our students’ improved performance, we’ve also reduced the SAT achievement gap as well as the overall scoring gap between the district and state averages, which has shrunk from 39 points in 2012 to just two points today.”


SAT exams

Moss said that Beaufort County School District African-American seniors’ average SAT scores had improved by 87 points over the past five years, compared to 19 points statewide.  White students’ averages in the district improved by 30 points, compared to 17 points statewide.

“That’s very positive,” the superintendent said, “because our African-American students have been able to reduce the achievement gap with white students even though both groups improved their performance.  We hope we can build on that and keep shrinking the gap.”

Looking at the past five years of data (2012-2016), Beaufort County School District seniors improved their SAT scores at nearly three times the rate of students statewide.

Statewide, South Carolina’s overall public school average improved by 18 points, from 1,428 in 2015 to 1,446 in 2016. 

Looking at five-year trend data statewide, South Carolina public school seniors’ average SAT score is up 24 points from 1,422 to 1,446.  Beaufort County seniors improved their average scores by 61 points over the same five-year period, reducing the gap between the South Carolina and Beaufort County average scores from 39 points to two points. 

Nationally, public school seniors’ average scores dropped nine points, from 1,462 in 2015 to 1,453 in 2016.  Over the past five years nationally, average scores dropped 24 points.


Average SAT scores for 2016 seniors at four of the district’s five high schools improved:

  • Battery Creek High’s average was 1,373, up from 1,314 last year.
  • Beaufort High’s average was 1,477, up from 1,451 last year.
  • Bluffton High’s average was 1,436, down from 1,447 last year.
  • Hilton Head Island High’s average was 1,502, up from 1,490 last year.
  • Whale Branch Early College High’s average was 1,291, up from 1,211 last year.


Moss said that academic preparation remains the key to success on college entrance exams.

“Our guidance counselors work with students to make sure they know what courses they need before they take the SAT or the ACT,” Moss said.  “The more challenging the coursework that a student is exposed to, the more likely that they’ll be prepared for college entrance exams.”

Next month, all district 10th-graders will take the preliminary SAT.  Unlike the SAT, the PSAT provides extensive feedback on individual student performance.  Chief Instructional Services Officer Dereck Rhoads said that careful review of those results would help teachers help individual students while also improving teachers’ own instructional practices.


Advanced Placement exams

Across the district, 538 individual students scored high enough to earn college credits compared to 530 last year and 446 in 2012.  For the 2015-16 school year, 986 AP exams were taken compared to 859 five years ago.  The total number of exams taken was 1,373, down from 1,584 last year but up from 1,328 in 2012.

“The key measure with AP scores is the percentage of students scoring high enough to earn college credits while still in high school, and 2016 was our best year yet,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss.  “Our students’ improved AP performance is occurring at the same time as more students are choosing to take dual enrollment courses that allow them to earn college credits while still in high school.  In other words, our students are raising their personal academic expectations and meeting those higher goals.”


Among local high schools over the past five years:

  • Battery Creek High – Forty-three percent scored high enough for college credit in 2016, up from 39 percent last year and up from 11 percent in 2012.
  • Beaufort High – Forty-nine percent scored high enough for college credit in 2016, compared to 44 percent last year and 55 percent in 2012.
  • Bluffton High – Seventy-one percent scored high enough for college credit in 20166, compared to 70 percent last year and 75 percent in 2012.
  • Hilton Head Island High – Forty-two percent scored high enough for college credit in 2016, compared to 41 percent last year and 48 percent in 2012.
  • Whale Branch Early College High offers college courses through its partnership with the Technical College of the Lowcountry rather than offering AP courses through the College Board.
Statewide, the percentage of AP exams with scores of 3 or better was 57 percent, the same as last year and up from 56 percent in 2012.