Three schools in county outperform state, national SAT averages

Published 6:38 pm Friday, September 27, 2019

Three high schools in the country outperformed state and national averages on the SAT standardized test, according to 2019 data released this week by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

Gray Stone Day School led the county with 103 students taking the test, a 95 percent participation rate. It had the county’s highest average score of 1,177, well above the state average of 1,091 and the national average of 1,039.

“I am very pleased with the overall score for Gray Stone on the SAT report that came out on Tuesday,” Helen Nance, Gray Stone’s chief administrative officer, said.

She said that of the schools that tested 95 percent or more of their students, Gray Stone finished with the fifth-highest scores in the state.

Though less students took the test at West Stanly (39.6 percent) and Stanly Early College (33 percent), both schools also surpassed the state and national averages. West Stanly had an average of 1,092 and Stanly Early College a 1,124.

Falling below the state and national average were South Stanly at 1,014, North Stanly at 974 and Albemarle at 959.

At 1,030, Stanly County Schools fell below the state average and just slightly below the national average. The score was also below the county’s average the previous year, which was 1,053.

The SAT is an optional college entrance exam comprised of two individual sections, evidence-based reading and writing and math, along with an optional essay portion. The final SAT composite score ranges from 400 to 1,600.

The SAT, which students have to pay to take, has slipped in prominence in North Carolina since the state began requiring public high school juniors to take the ACT in 2012. The ACT covers English, math, reading and science, with an optional writing section.

Nance said a smaller pool of test-takers generally leads to higher averages.

While he congratulated the schools that did well on the exam, Superintendent Dr. Jeff James emphasized that the ACT is the exam the school system focuses on.

“We don’t focus on the SATs,” James said. “It’s not what our state requires.”

Stanly had 250 students take the exam, an increase from the 218 students that took the exam the year before.

Though Albemarle had the lowest average, it did have the highest participation rate in the school system (47.6 percent).

Compared to data from the previous year, Albemarle, West Stanly, Stanly Early College and Gray Stone improved their average scores.

The state’s public school average of 1,091 was up one point from the previous year and 52 points above the nation’s public school average.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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