Class of 2018 seniors outperform state averages

2018 ACT scores released
Posted on 10/17/2018
pencil filling in an exam answer

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

District seniors outperform state averages
on 2018 ACT college entrance exams

BEAUFORT – Beaufort County School District seniors in the Class of 2018 scored higher than their South Carolina counterparts on ACT college entrance exam results released today.

The composite 2018 ACT average for all Beaufort County School District seniors was 18.6, the same as last year.  The composite average for South Carolina public school seniors was 18.0, down from 18.4 last year.

Beaufort County School District averages were higher than state public school averages in all four individual ACT exams used to determine composite scores.  Beaufort County School District seniors’ average scores on individual ACT exams were 17.5 (state average 16.9) in English; 18.7 (state average 18.0) in Math; 19.0 (state average 18.4) in Reading; and 18.8 (state average 18.3) in Science.

Beaufort County seniors’ average ACT score ranked 11th out of 82 districts statewide, up from 12th last year.

The ACT is a group of curriculum-based achievement exams designed to measure the academic skills taught in schools and deemed important for success in first-year college courses.  Scores range from a low of one to a high of 36.

Historically in South Carolina, the decision to take the ACT was optional for high school students.  But in 2014 the General Assembly approved mandatory testing for all 11th-graders, so those students now take the test regardless of whether they plan to attend college.

Because of that change, five-year trend data for South Caroline seniors’ overall performance are not valid indicators.  ACT scores were reported for 558 Beaufort County School District seniors in 2014 when the exams were optional.  With the new statewide requirement in place, scores were reported for 1,382 seniors in 2018. Like other states that implemented similar requirements, South Carolina saw immediate declines in average ACT scores reported for seniors because all of them – not just those who elected to take the test for college admission purposes – took the ACT as juniors.   

Average scores for 2018 seniors at Beaufort County School District high schools were:

  • Battery Creek – 16.5, down from 16.9 last year.
  • Beaufort –18.8, down from 19.3 last year.
  • Bluffton – 18.9, up from 18.7 last year.
  • Hilton Head Island – 20.0, up from 19.7 last year.
  • Whale Branch Early College – 15.5, down from 16.0 last year.
  • May River – 19.3, down from 19.7 last year.

Beaufort County seniors outperformed their counterparts statewide on the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, although those scores were all lower than levels set by ACT to estimate the levels of achievement needed for students to have a 50 percent chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75 percent chance of obtaining a C or higher in corresponding credit-bearing courses.

On ACT course benchmark performance:

  • 45 percent of Beaufort County seniors met the benchmark scoring level in English compared to 42 percent statewide.
  • 26 percent of Beaufort County seniors met the benchmark scoring level in Math compared to 24 percent statewide.
  • 33 percent of Beaufort County seniors met the benchmark scoring level in Reading compared to 30 percent statewide.
  • 23 percent of Beaufort County seniors met the benchmark scoring level in Science compared to 20 percent statewide.

Chief Instructional Services Officer Bonnie Almond said ACT average scores and college benchmark scoring levels demonstrate a need for intense examinations of what’s working in classroom instruction and what is not.

“While it’s worth noting that our district seniors outperformed state averages across the board, it’s also worth noting that neither our district nor our state averages are where they should be,” Almond said.  “We need an intense and consistent focus on improving the quality and rigor of what happens in classrooms at every grade level.”

Almond stressed the importance of high school students taking courses recommended by both the ACT and SAT.  Those courses include four years of English; three or more years of mathematics, including algebra I and II and geometry; three or more years of social studies, including American history and government and world history; and three or more years of natural sciences, such as general, physical and earth science, biology, chemistry and physics.