Chatham’s SAT averages collectively improve, though test less relevant

Posted 10/4/19

Recently-released data show that four of Chatham’s public and public charter high schools saw improved Standard Achievement Test average scores in 2019.

The county’s five high schools garnered …

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Chatham’s SAT averages collectively improve, though test less relevant

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Recently-released data show that four of Chatham’s public and public charter high schools saw improved Standard Achievement Test average scores in 2019.

The county’s five high schools garnered an average score of 1113 on the test, beating the state average of 1091 and national average of 1039.

Woods Charter School led the way with a 1280 average, followed by Northwood High School’s 1144. Chatham Charter School’s students scored a 1121 average, Chatham Central High School averaged 1019 while Jordan-Matthews scored 1003. All but Chatham Central, which dropped 13 points, improved their scores from 2018.

The numbers release comes at a time when SAT scores, which used to be regular standards for college admissions, are becoming less important. Kelly Batten, the executive director of secondary education and Career and Technical Education for Chatham County Schools, said Chatham students still regularly participate in the test but scores are less indicative of future success than they used to be.

“In general, the SAT results provide a snapshot of student and family preparation for the college admissions process,” Batten said. “Research studies continue to indicate that high school grade-point average and participation in at least one college-level course while in high school — such as our partnership for free college classes with Central Carolina Community College — are more significant predictors of success in college than a student’s SAT score or scores.”

Batten said participation has dropped in recent years when North Carolina began requiring all 11th-graders to take the free ACT college admissions assessment, which can be used on college applications instead of the SAT.

Because Chatham’s participation has, in Batten’s words, “remained fairly stable” in recent years, the district launched new resources this year to help students. The new Tutor.com Homework Help program is available to students through their school-issued Chromebooks and an online portal that includes links to free test prep for the SAT and ACT.

The state’s SAT average for public schools was 1091, a one-point increase from the previous year, while the national average dropped 10 points. State participation in the test dropped from 49 percent of high school graduates in 2018 to 47 percent of this year’s graduates.

“After the previous year’s gain of 16 points, North Carolina students continued to show good achievement,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson said in a press release. “These results remain an encouraging sign that more students in the state are graduating from high school well prepared for post-secondary education or other good options to gain skills needed for 21st century jobs.”

Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at zhorner@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.

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