Sampson County Schools improve AP scores; SAT scores down

By Chase Jordan -


In 2016, students from Sampson County Schools had higher Advanced Placement (AP) scores, but deceased slightly with the SAT score.

SCS’s participation and performance continue to increase on AP exams, which help student transfer college credits. Research also shows that AP students are more likely to graduate in four years.

According to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI), close to 70,000 took at least one AP exam during the 2015-16 school year. From that total, more than 37,000 students achieved a score of 3,4 or 5 on an exam. Students who earn a 3 or better may qualify for college credit, if policies at institutions permit it. Scores are based on a five-point scale, with 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest.

“Sampson County Students continue to have success with the AP exams,” said Assistant Superintendent Tommy Macon.”Even though the number of students taking the AP courses has decreased, a large number of students are continually showing success by achieving a level 3 or higher, which gives a student the opportunity to receive college course credits.”

Macon added that since the state realigned the quality point for College & Career Promise (CCP), the number of students taking advantage of the CCP option has shown an increase at the community college at no cost for a final exam. CCP is North Carolina’s dual enrollment program for high school students.

“So, we are pleased with the student’s success in both the CCP and AP course opportunities,” he said.

DPI also reported that students improved on the key measures of college readiness — the SAT college admissions exam and on AP tests. The exams are administered by The College Board. The data provided included totals for math, critical reading and writing. The highest possible score in 1600.

In 2016, the state’s average SAT for high school graduates increased by one point each on critical reading (502) and math (508). State gains on both parts of the test was better than gains nationally, which showed a three point drop on critical reading (494) and a four point drop on the math portion (508).

Also, the state’s total average were also up by one point on each of the two portions of the exam (to 496 in critical reading; 504 in math). By comparison, the national average score in critical reading was 487 and in math, 494. Average scores on the writing portion of the test declined by 5 points both for North Carolina (468) and the nation as a whole (472).

Official results from each district have not been posted on the DPI website, but according to local officials, SCS had a slight decrease in the overall SAT score in 2016. Two of the five high schools experienced an increased, while two high schools had a slight decrease. One high did not have the minimal number of 10 students to test in order to get a score. In 2015, the average SAT score for Sampson County students was 1360, which is an increase from the 2014 score of 1312.

Collectively, 56,468 North Carolina students who graduated in 2016 took the SAT. That amount was a decrease of 479 from the previous year. According to state and local officials, fewer students are taking the exam, since a payment is required.

“The three-year trend for SCS students reflects that more students are relying on the ACT exam for college admission opposed to the SAT exam,” Macon said. “The state requires all 11th graders to take the ACT as part of the accountability model at no financial cost to the student or parent.”

Macon said that is the reason there is a decline in the number of students participating in the SAT exam.

“The SAT exam cost is $92 and is expensive for students and parents,” he said. “That is a choice and not a requirement.”

State Superintendent June Atkinson reported that students are making progress, even with higher standards and expectations.

“We continue to see improvement on multiple measures of performance and growth, including the SAT and AP exams,” Atkinson stated in a news release.


By Chase Jordan

Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

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