The majority of high schools to the south and west of Raleigh showed improvement on the SATs in 2014 with many of them surpassing average scores at other Wake County schools, according to scores released by the College Board Tuesday.
Eight of Wake’s 25 traditional public high schools are in the southwestern region of the county: Apex High, Athens Drive High, Cary High, Fuquay-Varina High, Green Hope High, Holly Springs High, Middle Creek High and Panther Creek High.
Athens Drive High, Green Hope High, Holly Springs High, Middle Creek High and Panther Creek High each posted average scores that were at least 14 points better than their results last year.
The SAT is divided into three sections – math, critical reading and writing. Each are graded on a 200 to 800 point scale.
Holly Springs High showed more improvement than every other school in Wake County where more than 50 students took the SAT. The average SAT score at Holly Springs High jumped 46 points from 1,528 last year to 1,574 this year.
Students at Holly Springs High improved by an average of 20 points on both the math and reading sections.
“We have made targeted efforts to increase the rigorous opportunities for our students that can best prepare them for college and career opportunities,” Tim Locklair, principal of Holly Springs High, wrote in an email. “This includes our focus over the last three years of growing our Advanced Placement program.”
Scores also jumped 31 points from 1,538 to 1,569 at Middle Creek High in Apex, and 25 points at Panther Creek High in Cary from 1,647 to 1,672.
Scores at Green Hope High in Cary, which posted the highest score in Wake County for the third cosecutive year, rose by 39 points from 1,717 to 1,756. The average score for Green Hope students jumped 14 points to 578 on the reading section and 15 points to 567 on the writing section.
Apex High, Cary High and Fuquay-Varina High were the only schools in the area that did not show improvement.
But Apex and Cary were among the five area high schools – including Athens Drive, Green Hope and Panther Creek – that posted SAT scores better than the average scores for Wake County, North Carolina and the United States.
Wake County schools had a combined average score of 1,577, up from 1,572 last year. The combined average score for public schools across the state went up 2 points to 1,468, while the national average was 1,471.
Scores at Apex High fell 18 points from 1,679 last year to 1,661 this year. Scores at Cary High fell 30 points from 1,638 last year to 1,608 this year.
Fuquay-Varina High was the only school in the region with an average SAT score that didn’t improve from last year or beat the Wake County average. Scores at Fuquay-Varina High fell 18 points from 1,537 last year to 1,519 this year.
Fuquay-Varina High and Holly Springs High were the only schools in the region where participation in the SAT increased, though just slightly.
SAT participation has been dropping since North Carolina began administering the rival ACT exam free to high school juniors. In Wake County, SAT participation fell from 69 percent last year to 65.1 percent this year.
About 48 percent of Fuquay-Varina High seniors took the SAT, one of the lowest rates in the county. Green Hope High posted a 89.8 percent SAT participation rate, by far the highest in Wake County.
Cary High experienced the area’s most significant dropoff in participation. It fell 12 points from 65 percent last year to 53.4 percent this year.