SAT scores in 2014 were down while participation went up among eastern Wake County high schools in the nationally administered test for college-bound high school juniors and seniors.
Across the state, fewer students are taking the test compared to last year but at all high schools in eastern Wake County except Knightdale High, more students opted to take the test in 2014, data from North Carolina Department of Public Schools shows.
All six public high schools in eastern Wake County scored below the Wake County average of 1577.
At Knightdale High School, there was a 10 percentage point drop in the number of students taking the SAT. That percentage equals 38 fewer students taking the exam.
And while the school’s participation is down, so are its scores.
The average composite score for Knightdale students – which adds together math, writing and critical reading scores – was 1340, 42 points less than the average score last year.
The score is also 143 points less than the state average of 1483.
By subject, Knightdale students fell below last year’s scores the most in math. The average score fell 17 points. Critical reading scores dropped 13 points and writing scores were off 12 points.
But principal Jim Argent said the school is looking at ways to improve SAT scores among students who still choose to take the exam. He said the school doesn’t emphasize one college readiness test over another (like the SAT or ACT), but there does seem to be a natural migration to students taking the ACT.
North Carolina public school students can take the ACT for free, which may have contributed to the move to that test.
Even so, Argent said he and his staff are planning to look at ways to strengthen students’ vocabulary, especially words that are specific to a content area.
“If you’re attacking an SAT question and don’t have the ability … to understand vocabulary, that becomes difficult,” he said.
Knightdale students didn’t have the lowest scores in eastern Wake County though. East Wake High School of the Arts had an average score of 1281, an 86-point decrease from last year’s scores.
In 2013, the average score among students in the School of the Arts was 1367. In 2014, it fell to 1281, the lowest in eastern Wake County.
The biggest decrease was in average writing scores. It fell from 453 in 2013 to 418 in 2014. That avereage the lowest score on all subjects among all schools at East Wake.
The School of Engineering's average score also decreased, from 1417 in 2013 to 1375 this year.
Health Sciences and Integrated Technology increased. Health Sciences saw about a 50-point jump in the average score while the School of Integrated Technology had about a 100-point jump.
In 2013, the School of Integrated Technology had the lowest score of all four East Wake Schools with an average score of 1232.
East Wake’s School of the Arts had eight more students take the SAT this year than in 2013. Other schools at East Wake had fewer students take the test and among all four schools only had a net increase of eight more students taking the SAT in 2014.
In 2014, 141 students at East Wake High School took the SAT.
The school of Health Sciences had five fewer students take the SAT while the school of Integrated Technology had five additional students sign on to take the test.
The school of Engineering stayed steady compared to 2013, with 38 students taking the SAT.
East Wake Academy saw 45 students – 19 more than last year – take the SAT and recorded a 71-point increase in its average score. The school had the highest average score of all high schools in eastern Wake County, with a 1504.