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Reading, writing SAT scores rise in CMS

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools posted gains in student performance on the reading and writing portions of the SAT, an assessment used to gauge student readiness for college-level work. The increases come after two years of declining district scores on the assessment.

The average overall CMS score on the three-part test rose by 10 points to 1473. The maximum possible score is 2400 (each section is valued at 800 points). The average district score on the reading section of the test rose by six points to 493. On the writing portion, the average district score rose by four points to 477. Math scores for the district remained flat at 503.

“We are pleased to see these increases in our scores because we are placing a very strong emphasis on preparing every student for these important college-admissions requirements,” said Dr. Heath E. Morrison, superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. “We have encouraged students to use the Triumph tool, a free program to help them prepare for the SAT. Each school has a plan for the SAT and the ACT college tests to encourage student participation. We have also trained principals in how to encourage participation and increase performance on the test.”

The number of students taking the SAT declined by 9.9 percent for CMS, compared to an 8.2 percent decrease in North Carolina.  Graduating seniors in the class of 2013 were the first required to take the ACT, a college admissions test, in their junior year.  This likely impacted students’ SAT participation as seniors.

The district also emphasizes writing in its high school curricula, particularly in English Language Arts.

“We emphasize writing every day, writing on demand and more substantive writing projects that require revision and multiple drafts,” said Roxanne V. Breland, an English curriculum specialist with the district.

There was a range of performance on the SAT by school within the district. Seven schools had an average score above the national average. Eight schools had an average score above the North Carolina average.

North Carolina’s average overall SAT score was 1479 and the national average overall was 1498. The CMS increases overall, as well as those in reading and writing, narrowed the gap between the district and the nation. CMS reading scores rose in 2013 to within two points of the state average. The district’s math scores are within three points of the state average and the writing scores within one point.

North Carolina’s average 2013 scores were 495 in reading, 506 in math and 478 in writing. The state posted increases in reading and writing in 2013, compared to 2012; math scores were flat.

Nationally, the average score in reading was 496, in math 514 and in writing 488, with all scores unchanged from a year ago.

The College Board also released results for the Advanced Placement (AP) program.  The number of CMS students taking AP tests rose 9.5 percent to 4,592 and the number of tests taken rose 7.2 percent to 9,012. The CMS increases were greater than the state, where test-takers increased by 5.8 percent and the number of tests taken increased by 6.2 percent.  The number of tests graded as a 3, 4 or 5 declined 0.2 percent to 5,881. 

“We are working intentionally to increase the number of students taking AP courses and further increase training for teachers,” said Morrison. “Increasing access to more rigorous classes better prepares our students for post-secondary success.”

AP exams are scored on a five-point scale with scores of 3, 4 or 5 being considered high enough to qualify for college credit or placement at most colleges and universities.

*Data in this release is sourced from the College Board and includes all CMS graduates for the class of 2013.  In reviewing the data from NCDPI and the College Board, CMS discovered that one CMS school was inadvertently omitted from the state’s SAT data.  CMS is working with representatives from NCDPI and the College Board to rectify the discrepancy.

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