Sixty-eight percent of North Carolina high school seniors in 2012, or 63,271 students, took the SAT college admissions exam and had an average combined score of 997 (Critical Reading and Math), according to The College Board's annual SAT report released today. These average scores show a dip from 2011 when the average combined score was 1,001 in North Carolina.
The national average score also decreased from 1,011 in 2011 to 1,010 in 2012.
North Carolina seniors posted an average Math score of 506, and an average Critical Reading score of 491. The average Writing score for North Carolina's Class of 2012 was 472. These scores were two points lower in each tested area when compared to the performance of the Class of 2011.
Nationally, scores also dipped. The national average Critical Reading score was 496. Math was 514 and Writing was 488. At the national level, Critical Reading and Writing each declined by one point, and Math stayed the same as the year before.
The 10-year trend in SAT scores shows the nation declining by 8 points in Critical Reading and 2 points in Math. In North Carolina, Critical Reading scores are 2 points lower than in 2002 and Math scores are one point higher.
The participation rate for the class of 2012 is the largest in North Carolina history. North Carolina students and colleges and universities historically have favored the SAT admissions test although the state began administering the ACT college admissions test to all high school juniors in 2012.
"The strong SAT and Advanced Placement participation rates in North Carolina are encouraging because they demonstrate that students are planning to further their education," said State Superintendent June Atkinson. "I am especially pleased to see AP participation rates and performance improving."
The SAT has set a Benchmark of 1550 (combination of Critical Reading, Mathematics and Writing) as the score indicating a 65 percent likelihood that students will achieve a B grade point average or higher during their first year of college. Using this Benchmark, 38 percent of North Carolina's Class of 2012 achieved the Benchmark of 1550. This is the first year that The College Board has set and reported scores against a Benchmark.
In addition to SAT college admissions test results, The College Board also released summary results for the Advanced Placement program. The AP results showed a 7.8 percent increase in the number of AP exam takers and a 7.2 percent increase in the number of scores in the 3-5 range. AP exams are scored on a five-point scale with scores of 3, 4 or 5 being considered high enough to qualify for college credit or placement at most colleges and universities. A total of 53,836 North Carolina students took AP exams, and most students took more than one AP course and exam.
Here's a look at the full study: