Carteret County students outperform state, nation on SAT

Buses are parked Thursday at West Carteret High School, one of Carteret County’s three high schools, which scored above the state and national averages on the 2020 SAT. Scores at all three schools decreased from 2019. (Cheryl Burke photo)

BEAUFORT — Carteret County 2020 graduates scored above the state and national averages on the SAT college admissions exam, however, scores overall fell 21 points from the previous year.

The College Board and N.C. Department of Public Instruction released scores Wednesday.

The school system received the second highest score among the state’s traditional public school systems, with Chapel Hill-Carrboro posting the highest score of 1,270.

Twelve public charter high schools also scored higher than the county’s school district.

The county school system received a 2020 combined score of 1,156, down 21 points from the 1,177 score posted in 2019.

The county’s score compares to the state average of 1,089 and national average of 1,030. The state and national averages fell from the previous year, the state’s by two points and the national average by nine points.

Superintendent Dr. Rob Jackson could not be reached for comment.

In a press released issued by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, State Superintendent Mark Johnson commended state students for performing as well as they did considering the coronavirus pandemic.

“North Carolina’s 2020 graduates are to be commended for losing little ground in a challenging year and for holding their own against difficult times,” Mr. Johnson said.

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

On the evidence-based reading and writing section, the county average was 579, down 14 points from 2019.

For the math section, the county average was 576, down from 584 in 2019.

The county evidence-based reading and writing portion for 2019 compares to the state average of 548 and the national average of 520. The state’s reading/writing score slipped by one point from the previous year and the national average decreased by four points.

The county math score of 576 compares to the state score of 540, which is down six points from 2019. The national math score was 510, a decrease of five points from 2019.

The number of county students taking the SAT increased slightly from the previous year, while the number of students across the state decreased, according to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. The county reported 196 taking the exam in 2020, compared to 193 in 2019. The 2020 figure represents 37.5% of those eligible for the exam.

The state reported 44,282 graduates taking the exam in 2020, down from 47,826 the previous year. The 2020 figure represents 45% of the state’s graduates taking the exam for 2020.

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.

As for individual county high school SAT results, Croatan High School reported the highest combined score for 2020 of 1,182, with 590 on the reading/writing section and 592 in math. The school’s combined score decreased by 21 points from 2019, when students marked 608 on the reading/written section and 595 in math.

East Carteret High School had a combined score of 1,089, with 553 on on the reading/written portion and 536 on the math portion. That school’s combined score decreased 47 points from 2019, when students scored 572 on the reading/written section and 564 on the math section.

West Carteret High School had a combined score of 1,136, with 571 on the reading/written section and 565 in math. The 2020 combined score decreased by 29 points from the previous year. In 2019, students scored 586 on the reading/written section and 579 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 cost. In addition, research shows students who take AP classes are more likely to persist in college and graduate in four years.

Because of COVID-19 school closures in the spring, when AP exams were given, the College Board adjusted administration of the college-level tests to shorter, at-home tests.


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

(9) comments

David Collins

At home tests ! No fudging with that , for sure . Sad .


Even in English and Grammar? Sad for the rest of the state.


The SAT is only taken by those HS students wishing to, or having the means to afford a higher education. And for many privileged, preparation for the test begins as early Ninth grade with private special classes, practice tests and tutoring. It would be interesting to know how many students took the exam, and their class size last year versus this year.

However, I am most interested in the test results of all students in Reading, Math, and general testing. IMHO: it is detrimental to a student's motivation to just pass or fail, as that does not identify the areas a student needs extra help not being provided at home or through the system. Our youth need to have an overall success ratio to graduate HS and continue in whatever career field they chose, and Pass/Fail does not provide this encouragement to excel.


Sea... I agree but the school can’t motivate an unmotivated student. Imo...that comes from home. A “pass” HS diploma IS graduated “on paper” much like a doctor or other professional (with a license). Some of those aren’t so good at what they do. There are a bunch of kids that don’t stand a chance due to the home environment. There’s a difference between being criminally negligent and a bad parent...unfortunately. Schools don’t raise kids... they provide an education.


I totally agree with your comments as we continue this discussion. Our real life learning began with receiving the diploma. We had received the classroom tools, which enabled us to go into the world and experience life and develop a career. Unfortunately presently too many parents have no parenting skills, due to how they were raised, or being so career oriented that they have "handed over" their children to the system to raise. A friend today told me that she was so busy trying to keep her students from acting up in the online class that she had little time to teach the material. I asked where the parent was, and she answered that they were just walking around in the background with no interaction with their childs class. I agree that the focus of schools must be to provide an education to all children.


I find this article a little misleading as they say that CC schools outperform the state as a headline, but then mention that there were other charter schools that ranked higher in the article itself. I did a little more digging to get more of the specific scores in case anyone is interested:


Thank you for the link.


Virtual class will be interesting fo sure. I know some parents used the school for a babysitting service just to get kids out of the house. I have a bad feeling that the next couple of years are going to yield less than “educated” students.


Kinda of funny that many times there are stories about the schools In the county and the superintendent can’t be reached for comment, is too busy, or the BOE told him not say anything to the press because they “own” him.

Welcome to the discussion.

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