By SEANNA ADCOX
COLUMBIA, SC (AP) — South Carolina's graduating seniors posted higher
scores than their predecessors on the SAT college entrance exam for the first
time in five years, and more Advanced Placement tests earned students college
credit than the past year, according to data released Thursday by the tests'
The average composite score for the Class of 2013 on the SAT's math, critical
reading and writing portions was 1,436. That's five points above last year but
still 18 points below 2008's recalculated figure. The national average is
unchanged from 2012 at 1,498, according to the College Board
The test has a maximum possible score of 2,400. The College Board considers
1,550 a benchmark for indicating college success.
Broken down by subject, South Carolina's students averaged 487 in math, 484
in critical reading and 465 in writing.
State schools Superintendent Mick Zais said the SAT, like the other
college-entrance test the ACT, is not an effective way to measure school's
performance. He said he continues to focus instead on improving children's
ability to read.
"Addressing the reading gap in elementary school must be our top priority
because reading is fundamental to everything else in a student's education. If
students cannot read, they will not succeed in school," he said.
Meanwhile, nearly 24,000 AP tests taken by South Carolina teens received
scores high enough to earn college credit. That's up by almost 9 percent from
The number of tests isn't equal to the number of students taking the
college-level classes, since many take more than one.
But the number of students also increased by 9 percent this year, to nearly
25,700, again exceeding the national growth rate.
The five most-taken AP tests in South Carolina during the 2012-13 school year
were English language, U.S. history, English literature, geography and calculus
"These courses offer students college-level rigor without the price tag of
college tuition. By taking advantage of the opportunities AP exams present,
students can cut future costs associated with continuing their education," Zais
More than 26,300 of the state's high school seniors took the SAT, 457 fewer
than last year.
College-bound students often take the SAT more than once to improve their
scores. In its annual report, the College Board uses the last score of each
graduating senior. In 2011, the board began including the results of SAT tests
taken by seniors in May and June, and then recalculated previous years, back to
2007, after noticing a dramatic uptick in students taking the SAT for the first
time in those late months.
The College Board discourages comparing SAT results from state to state, due
to the wide range in the number of students taking the test, and discourages
directly comparing one class to the next.