Clinton High looks to improve SATs ‘downward trend’

Lauren Williams Staff Writer

November 8, 2013

Clinton High School principal Dr. Steven Miller made a presentation to the Clinton City Board of Education concerning the high school’s SAT scores during a work session late in the week.

Miller reminded the school board members that the SAT is comprised of three parts — a math component, a critical reading component, and a writing component — where students can earn up to 800 points per component, making a perfect score equal to 2400.

Previously made up of only two parts — a math and a verbal — the SAT underwent changes back in 2005, adding a writing section, eliminating analogies and quantitative comparisons, and making more updates so that the test is more aligned with current school curriculums and college admissions requirements and expectations, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI)’s 2013 SAT Report.

Miller then shared with the school board members the composite SAT scores from Clinton High School over the past three years. In the 2010-2011 school year, the school earned a total score of 1396; in the 2011-2012 school year, a total score of 1344; and in 2012-2013 school year, the same total score of 1344.

When compared to state and national totals, the school’s scores come in slightly under. Over the past three years, North Carolina’s total scores have ranged from 1469 (2011-2012) to 1479 (2012-2013) while the nation’s total scores have ranged from 1498 (both 2011-2012 and 2012-2013) to 1500 (2010-2011).

Miller then broke down the Dark Horses’ total scores into their components with the school earning a 459 score in math, a 447 score in critical reading, and a 438 score in writing last year. With the exception of the writing score which rose from 423 in 2011-2012 to 438 in 2012-2013, the other scores were lower than in the previous two years.

In the math component, scores dropped from 477 in 2010-2011 to 467 in 2011-2012 to 459 in 2012-2013. Similarly, in the critical reading section, scores went from 463 in 2010-2011 to 454 in 2011-2012 to 447 last year.

Acknowledgingthe drop in scores, Miller assured the school board that he and school officials were aware of the school’s numbers creeping lower and were determined to change that trend.

“It is on a downward trend,” he said, “so we’ve got some work to do there.”

When board member Diane Viser questioned how many students at Clinton High School take the SAT per year, Miller responded that an average of 90 students participate annually.

According to NCDPI’s 2013 SAT Report, the number of Dark Horse students opting to take the test has risen over the past three years, particularly this last year, as 86 took the test in 2011, 88 in 2012, and then 106 in 2013.

Miller pointed out that the school currently has a “good balance” of white and black students who choose to take the test, but he and school officials are looking to increase test participation from their population of Native American and Latino students.

Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at