Polk County High School AP and Honors English teacher Carrie Baris instructs her classroom. Polk County High School placed sixth in the state in SAT scores this year. (photo by Leah Justice)
Polk County High School AP and Honors English teacher Carrie Baris instructs her classroom. Polk County High School placed sixth in the state in SAT scores this year. (photo by Leah Justice)

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Polk ranks sixth statewide on SATs

Published 6:21pm Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Polk County High School students recently found yet another achievement to brag about as they ranked sixth on SAT scores out of North Carolina’s 115 public school systems.

PCHS students accomplished an average combined score of 1,549; 70 points above the state combined average score of 1,479. The national combined average score is 1,498.

PCHS Principal Mary Feagan said the school’s staff has no focused strategy for achieving well on the tests. Instead, she said, they just have a focus on producing well-rounded students.

“We hope that just the nature of a rigorous classroom allows our students to excel,” Feagan said. “We have good teachers and we have good students. We are trying to prepare them for life after high school, whatever that may look like for them, and in the process we hope that means all of our students are better educated.”

Sixty-six PCHS students or 43.4 percent of the school’s population elected to take the SAT.

An average score nationwide is 500 on SAT critical reading and 500 on the SAT mathematics portion. PCHS students scored an average 523 on the math portion, 513 on the critical reading segment and 513 on the writing portion.

By comparison, nearby Buncombe County students averaged a 530 on the math portion and a 523 on the critical reading segment, just seven and 10 points higher. Buncombe County Schools had 757 students take the test and that system placed fifth statewide.

Feagan said PCHS’ scores went up this year specifically in critical reading and writing.

“That’s an area that I saw the most improvement and I think that is partly because of the AP offering in English at the 11th grade level and the fact that we have students taking college level English classes,” Feagan said. “I believe that may reflect in those higher scores in writing.”

In 2012, 86 PCHS students or 52.1 percent completed the SAT,  achieving average math scores of 529, average critical reading scores of 492 and average writing scores of 487, for overall combined average scores of 1,508.

Feagan said a lot of focus has been placed on the SAT, which students are not required to take, but she said the PCHS student population has also excelled on the ACT, a test all juniors must take. Polk County students have ranked sixth in the state on that exam as well.

 

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