The scores of Johnston County students taking the SAT rose from last year but continued a three-year lag behind the North Carolina average.
The State board of Education released scores for all school systems earlier this month, and Johnston County trailed the state on all but one of the three test components, critical reading.
Johnston County’s average composite score of 1470, made up of math, critical reading and writing score, was eight points off the state average and even further behind the national average of 1490.
But six of the county’s 10 high schools saw their average climb, with the biggest stride made at North Johnston High School, where the score jumped 91 points from the year before.
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North Johnston was the county’s lowest-scoring school last year, with a composite of 1364. Johnston’s Early College and Middle College continue to set the county pace, with composite scores of 1609 and 1532 this year, respectively.
“We grew from last year, so we’re happy to be moving in the right direction,” said Rodney Peterson, chief academic officer for Johnston County schools. “Overall the students did very well; this is where we want to be.”
Corinth Holders, Early College, Middle College, North Johnston, South Johnston and West Johnston all brought their scores up, while Clayton, Cleveland, Princeton and Smithfield-Selma slipped from last year. SSS posted the lowest average at 1352.
While college is increasingly a necessity in the modern age, Johnston County saw its participation in the nation’s best known college-entrance exam drop for the third straight year, to just 41 percent of eligible students. Peterson attributed the drop not to falling interest in college but to North Carolina’s requirement that all high school juniors take the ACT rather than the SAT.
“Both measure the same thing in different ways,” Peterson said of the SAT and ACT. “A student may take the ACT and score within his or her desired college’s range and not see the point in taking the SAT. ... These kids are very knowledgeable about what they want to do and what they need to do to meet those goals.”
Peterson said Johnston puts more stock in the ACT, perhaps because of the county’s better performance on that test. Of last year’s junior class, 62 percent scored a 17 or better on the 36-point test, 2.3 percentage points above the state average. The University of North Carolina System requires a minimum of 17 on the ACT for admission.
On the SAT, Johnston County trailed the state on two of the three test components: 500 to the state’s 511 in math and 473 to the state’s 484 in writing. Its 497 score in critical reading bested the state average by two points.
Drew Jackson: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104; @jdrewjackson
SAT scores by school and year
Percent of students tested