SDPC in top 5 school districts in State

COUNTY — SAT scores for students in the School District of Pickens County in 2016 beat national averages and rose once again from the previous year.

SDPC’s mean composite score was 1515, an improvement from its previous score of 1501, above the national mean score of 1484, and well above the South Carolina Public School mean score of 1446. The score places SDPC in the top five school districts in the state on the SAT again.

“Our goal continues for us to be a top-five district in the state academically, and I’m proud of our students for hitting that mark on the SAT,” SDPC superintendent Dr. Danny Merck said. “Strong SAT scores show how well our college-bound students are for the next step in their academic careers.”

In the three tested areas of critical reading, math and writing, SDPC’s mean scores were 513, 514 and 488, respectively. Students improved in all three areas from 2015 and scored above the national average in all three areas.

“Last year, I remarked on how we hoped to rise above the national average in the math portion of the test, so I’m very pleased to see that happen this year,” assistant superintendent of instructional services Sharon Huff said. “Going forward, we’re going to focus not just on raising our scores, but also increasing the number of students taking the test.”

The percentage of 2016 SDPC seniors who took the test fell to 34 percent from 48 percent the year before.

10-5 Page 2A.indd“Expanding the circle of students included in SAT, ACT and AP testing is very important to setting high expectations and having a successful high school culture,” Merck said. “The state has provided ACT testing for all students, and we are rapidly increasing the number of students included in AP. A good SAT score is very helpful for college admissions, so it will be a goal going forward to make sure as many students as possible can have that opportunity.”

The district continued to expand Advanced Placement participation in 2016, accelerating a trend from prior years. 815 SDPC students took AP exams last year, up from 721 the year before. The percentage of students with a passing score of 3 or higher fell to 61.5 percent from 68.1 percent the prior year, but remained above the state average of 57 percent, and the national average of 56 percent.

“The benefits of increased participation far outweigh concerns about the passage rate, especially when our rate stays above the national average,” Huff said.. “More students taking AP classes results in more students being prepared for the rigors of college. It opens the doors to higher education and shows our students what they are capable of achieving.”

10-5 Page 2A.inddThe number of exams taken by SDPC students increased sharply as well, from 1,121 in 2015 to 1,348 in 2016.

“This expansion in AP enrollment is a very intentional philosophical choice for us,” Merck said. “Looking ahead, we expect about 1,700 AP exams to be taken this year, and we will continue adding to that number as long as our passage rate stays near the national average. Approximately 65 percent of our students attend 2 or 4 year colleges after graduating. We are attempting to provide all students with the rigor that is needed to be college and career ready. Increasing AP participation without compromising rigor is one of the keys to achieving that goal.”

“SDPC middle and high school teachers recently received training from the College Board on instructional strategies for pre-AP courses aimed at helping us build a strong foundation of preparation for our students,” Huff added. “We’re thankful that so many of our teachers have accepted the challenge of teaching AP courses, and are working hard to make sure more students can succeed at the highest level than ever before.”