BEAUFORT — County 2019 graduates scored above the state and national averages on the SAT college admissions exam, receiving the third highest score among the 115 public school systems in the state.

The county school system received a 2019 combined score of 1,177, two points higher than 2018. The only public school districts to top that were Chapel Hill-Carrboro, with a combined score of 1,287, and Watauga, with a combined score of 1,197.

The county’s score compares to the state average of 1,091 and national average of 1,039.

Superintendent Mat Bottoms, in an email statement Tuesday, praised students and teachers for their success on the SAT, as well as the ACT, which reported results earlier this month. ACT scores were also well above state and national averages.

“Our public school system’s outstanding SAT and ACT scores are the results of a collective effort among schools and teachers at all levels, and students and families,” Mr. Bottoms said. “When we couple that with strong community support and support from our county’s elected officials, it simply spells success.”

The N.C. Department of Public Instruction released results of the national college entrance exam Tuesday.

The state’s average SAT score for 2019 high school graduates from North Carolina public schools increased 1 point from 2018. The national score dropped 10 points from the previous year.

The scores reflect graduates who took the SAT at least once during public high school.

The highest possible combined score on the SAT exam is 1,600, with 800 possible on each of the math and evidence-based reading and writing sections.

On the evidence-based reading and writing section, the county average was 593, up 2 points from 591 in 2018.

On the math section, the county average was 584, the same score as 2018.

The county evidence-based reading and writing portion for 2018 compares to the state average of 549 and the national average of 524. The state’s reading/writing score slipped by 1 point from the previous year and the national average decreased by 4 points.

The county math score of 584 compares to the state score of 542, which is up 2 points from 2018. The national math score was 515, a decrease of 5 points from 2018.

The number of county and state students taking the SAT decreased from the previous year, according to the NCDPI.

The county reported 193 students taking the exam in 2019, compared to 211 in 2018. The 2019 figure represents 34.3% of those eligible for the exam.

The state reported 47,842 graduates taking the exam in 2019, down from 48,535 the previous year. The 2019 figure represents 47% of the state’s graduates taking the exam for 2019.

Fewer public school students in North Carolina are taking the college admissions exam because the state now requires and pays the cost for all juniors to take the ACT college-readiness exam, a measure also widely used in college admissions decisions. Those scores were released in early September with the state’s READY Accountability report.

As for individual county high school SAT results, Croatan High School reported the highest combined score for 2019 of 1,203, with 608 on the reading/written section and 595 in math.

The school’s combined score increased 7 points from 2018, when students marked 602 on the reading/written section and 594 on the math section.

East Carteret High School had a combined score of 1,136, with 572 on the reading/written portion and 564 on the math portion.

That school’s combined score increased 4 points from 2018, when students scored 578 on the reading/written section and 554 on the math section.

West Carteret High School had a combined score of 1,165, with 586 on the reading/written section and 579 in math. The 2019 combined score decreased by 5 points from the previous year. In 2018, students scored 584 on the reading/written section and 586 in math.

In addition to SAT results, the report also tracks the number of high school students taking Advanced Placement courses. While no county results were available on the state report, North Carolina’s participation and performance dipped last year on AP exams.

The exams can help students earn transferrable college credit and save on college costs. In addition, research shows that students who take AP classes are more likely to persist in college and graduate in four years.

The number of public school students in North Carolina taking at least one AP exam in 2018-19 also declined, as did the total number of exams taken and the number of exams with a proficient score of 3 or higher, according to the NCDPI and College Board data.

In all, 74,209 students in the state’s public schools took a total of 135,915 AP exams, of which 73,915 received a 3 or higher. Compared to 2017-18, North Carolina saw about a 1.5% decrease in the number of students taking at least one AP exam and a 3.6% decline in exams taken.

The percentage of students with a score of 3 or better was down by 1.6% from the previous year. Students who earn a 3 or better on the exams, which are scored on a 5-point scale, can qualify for college credit, although policies vary by institution.

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

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