The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

10 Years of Declining Access: SAT Participation Rates by County

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We have posted a new map detailing county-by-county SAT participation rates among public school graduating seniors from 2001 to 2010.

The result?

Over the past 10 years, participation rates on the SAT have plummeted.

In 2001, 20 out of 46 counties had at least half of their public school seniors taking the SAT exam. Not a single county had a participation rate of less than 25 percent.

Charleston County had the highest SAT participation rate – 70 percent – in 2001. In fact, this is the highest rate among all South Carolina counties over the past 10 years.

Overall, 55 percent of public school seniors in the class of 2001 took the SAT exam.

Fast forward to 2010 and the SAT participation rate among public school seniors has significantly dropped – from 55 percent in 2001 to 46 percent in 2010.

Only 10 counties out of 46 had at least half of their public school seniors take the SAT. Worse, 7 counties had a participation rate of less than 25 percent. Remember, in 2001, not a single county had a participation rate lower than 25 percent.

Granted, for 2010, public school participation rates on the SAT increased—by just under 1 percent. But, as we have written, this improvement was accompanied by an overall decline in participation (counting both public and private school students) statewide.

Moreover, participation by public school seniors has fallen by almost 10 points in 10 years:

2001 … 55.2 percent

2002 … 52.6 percent

2003 … 50.7 percent

2004 … 49.5 percent

2005 … 50.1 percent

2006 … 49.4 percent

2007 … 48.9 percent

2008 … 48.1 percent

2009 … 45.1 percent

2010 … 46.0 percent

In only two years –2005 and 2010 – did the participation rate for public school seniors see an increase from the prior year. Overall, participation declined seven out of nine times.

During the same period, average state scores have also generally fallen. From 2001 to 2005, test scores actually went up three out of four years, going from 974 to 993.

But in 2006 the test was revised, increasing the maximum composite score from 1600 to 2400. Since then, scores have declined four out of five years from 1465 in 2006 to 1447 in 2010.

Overall the composite score based on a maximum score of 1600 has changed  from 974 in 2001 to 979 to 2010.

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Written by Simon Wong

September 22, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Posted in Public education

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