Southern Vance up, Northern down on SATs

Vance County high school students boosted the county public schools’ SAT average by 12 points in 2005, according to statewide numbers released by the state Department of Public Instruction on Tuesday.

The 203 members of the Class of 2005 at Northern Vance and Southern Vance who took the college admissions test averaged a combined 868 — 442 on the math and 426 on the verbal. That was an improvement of eight points on the math and four points of the verbal from the Class of 2004, which had 213 students at the two regular public high schools in the county take the SAT.

The percentage of Vance seniors taking the SAT dropped from 58.5 percent in 2004 to 52.7 percent in 2005. A higher percentage generally indicates more graduates are going to college; it also often lowers the county average because test takers come from lower in the class ranks.

That tendency matches Vance’s experience of the past three years. The scores were highest, 873 (441 math, 432 verbal), in 2003, when 51.7 percent of seniors took the test. When the percentage shot up the next year, the SAT composite dropped to 856. When the percentage fell back to 52.7 percent, the SAT average bounced almost all the way back to the 2003 level.

Meanwhile, the national average has hardly changed, rising from 1026 (519 math, 507 verbal) in 2003 to 1028 (520 math, 508 verbal) in 2005. Nationwide, 49 percent of the Class of 2005 took the SAT, up from 48 percent two years earlier.

In North Carolina, the percentage of seniors taking the SAT rose from 68 percent in 2003 to 70 percent in 2004 to 74 percent in 2005. The SAT average rose from 1001 to 1006 to 1010 in 2005.

All of Vance County’s improvement last school year came at Southern Vance, where the average on the college admissions test rose from a combined 822 (423 math, 399 verbal) to 861 (445 math, 416 verbal). Southern Vance’s Class of 2003 averaged 813 (412 math, 401 verbal).

At Northern Vance, where a higher percentage of students took the SAT, the average dropped from 878 (441 math, 437 verbal) in 2004 to 874 (440 math, 434 verbal) in 2005. Northern’s average was 921 (464 math, 457 verbal) in 2003.