School districts in York, Chester and Lancaster counties followed the statewide trend of better scores on the ACT college entrance exam, according to figures released last week.
The state’s score for public school students saw a 0.2-point gain for an average score of 20.1 on the 36-point scale. Although South Carolina still fell short of the national average of 20.9, the state’s students narrowed that gap this year, and saw the biggest gains on their reading test.
“While nationwide assessments continue to show a reading gap between South Carolina and the nation, it is encouraging to see the gap is closing,” said S.C. Superintendent of Education Mick Zais. “We must continue to address reading gaps because reading is fundamental to everything else in a student’s education. If students cannot read, they will not succeed in school.”
He used the scores to reiterate his plea to the state Senate to support legislation that would prevent students from being passed at third grade if they can’t read on grade level.
The ACT is made of four subtests: English, math, reading and science reasoning. The test scores released last week are from students who graduated in 2013, regardless of when they took the exam.
Besides Fort Mill, every local school had higher composite scores on the exam. Fort Mill’s score remained at 23.1, which was the second-highest district score in South Carolina.
Two local districts exceeded the state average: Fort Mill and Clover at 22.1. The Rock Hill district, at 20, fell .1 points below the state average.
The local district with the largest gain was Chester County, which saw its score increase 0.6 points to 18.1.
The scores at every local public high school in the three counties increased except for two: Nation Ford, whose score remained at 22.7, and Northwestern, which dropped .3 points to 20.6.
The local high school with the highest increase was Indian Land, which improved 1.6 points to 20.6.
Although the number of students taking the ACT fell statewide this year, an increasing number of students took the test during the previous five years.
The ACT measures academic skills that students learn in school, while the SAT college entrance exam evaluates how students think.
Diette Courrégé Casey of the Post and Courier in Charleston contributed to this report.