Solving problems

Croatan High School students solve problems in a math class Friday, one of the areas that the school’s Class of 2015 excelled in on the ACT college readiness exam. Results show that the county’s Class of 2015 scored above the state average and were close to the national average. (Cheryl Burke photo)

BEAUFORT — Overall the county’s Class of 2015 students who took the ACT college entrance exam as juniors outperformed their state counterparts and were just below the national average.

The exception for the three high schools, when it comes to looking at individual scores, was Croatan High School, which scored above both the state and national average.

The N.C. Department of Public Instruction released the results last week.

Overall, North Carolina’s high school class of 2015 scored below the national average, with scores largely unchanged from last year.

The test, billed as the state’s new measure of college readiness, tests English, reading, math and science. The highest score on each section is 36. A composite score is also issued based on the overall average of test results.

The county’s composite score was 20.8, compared to 19.0 for the state, and 21.0 for the nation.

The average county score in English was 20.0, compared to 17.6 for the state, and 20.4 for the nation.

The average county score in math was 21.2, compared to 19.5 for the state, and 20.8 for the nation.

The average county score in reading was 20.9, compared to 19.2 for the state, and 21.4 for the nation.

The average county score in science was 20.8, compared to 19 for the state, and 20.9 for the nation.

Mat Bottoms, assistant superintendent who oversees testing, said Friday he was pleased with results.

“I am very proud of our students’ successes in all areas, and this report on the ACT is another indicator,” he said.  “These successes don’t happen without the total commitment of all of our teachers, pre-kindergarten through 12th  grade. They are tireless in their efforts to get the very best from every student. I am in awe of the great teaching I see very day when I walk through the classrooms. Our teachers’ passion and dedication is remarkable.”

The state began requiring all high school juniors take the ACT in 2012, and it is one of 13 states where all graduating seniors took the test at least once in their high school careers. 

The state’s average scores dropped when the ACT became a requirement. In many states, only students applying to college take the exam.

After the big decline, North Carolina scores began to inch up in all subjects but math.

The state intentionally chose to have students take the test as juniors, said State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson. It gives schools the opportunity to address student needs for improvement before they graduate, she said in an Associated Press wire report last week.

The ACT report is based on test results for 2015 high school graduates who took the ACT as sophomores, juniors or seniors, and includes private school students’ scores.

Among the states where all public high school graduates took the ACT, North Carolina scores are among the lowest. The composite score of 19 is tied with Mississippi, which also tests all graduates.

As for individual county high school scores, Croatan High School got an overall composite score of 21.9, which is above both the national and state average. Scores in each subject were: 21.3, English; 22, math; 22, reading; and 21.5, science.

East Carteret High School had an overall composite score of 19.3. Scores in each subject were: 18, English; 20.1, math; 18.9, reading; and 19.6, science.

West Carteret High School had an overall composite score of 20.8. Scores in each subject were: 19.9, English; 21.1, math; 21, reading; and 20.7, science.

Croatan High School principal Joe Poletti said he was pleased with the results, and credited the hard work of teachers and students.

“We have a culture of excellence not only here, but at all of our high schools,” said Mr. Poletti.

The ACT bills itself as a “curriculum-based achievement test” that predicts student performance in first-year college courses.

The report says that 66 percent of the county’s test-takers had at least a 50 percent chance of getting a B- in a first year college English composition course. 

That compares to 47 percent ready for the state and 64 percent for the nation. 

Forty-six percent of county test-takers would do well in a first-year college algebra course. That compares to 32 percent for the state, and 42 percent for the nation.

Forty-three percent of county test-takers would do well in reading, compared to 34 percent for the state and 46 percent for the nation.

Thirty-seven percent of county test-takers would do well in college biology. This compares to 26 percent in the state and 38 percent in the nation.

In all four subjects, results show 26 percent of county test-takers made those benchmark scores, compared to 18 percent in the state and 28 percent in the nation.

The ACT report is the first in a wave of standardized test results to be reported over the next week. Results of state end-of-grade and end-of-course tests will be released Wednesday, as will results of SAT and AP (advanced placement) tests.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)

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

(3) comments


All about demographics.

David Collins

Just what is it about Croatan HS. Could it be that the students are are more motivated? Perhaps come from 2 parent homes that truly value education? Perhaps it is in the water they drink. Hey, let's bus in a bunch from under performing schools to bring Croatan down to the average. Yeah, that will make a difference next time around.


It is the same reason the county is number 7 in the state. The politicians and education hierarchy can waste all the $ they want on the latest liberal idea, testing, "closing the gap", etc. until the cows come in and it will do very little if anything. The new alpha grading of each school proves it. It is overwhelmingly about demographics. All that fed, state and local $ wasted on testing and other foolishness would be best spent in the classroom in failing schools. Not likely that will help much either but at least it would show they're using common sense.

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