DARLINGTON — Graduating seniors from two Darlington County School District high schools saw average composite scores improve on the ACT, while another school exceeded the state average and the fourth lost no ground.

Mayo High School for Math, Science and Technology outpaced the state composite average on the 2019 ACT. Mayo High averaged a 20.7 composite score, while the state averaged 18.6 among all public school students.

Hartsville High School’s 18.3 average composite score was just below this year’s state average and an increase from the school’s 2018 score of 17.1.

Lamar High School graduating seniors’ average of 16.0 also surpassed their 2018 average composite score of 15.7. Darlington High School’s average of 16.1 remained consistent.

As a district, Darlington County School District graduating seniors averaged 17.4 in on the 2019 ACT, an improvement over last year’s average of 17.0.

“We are pleased with this year's increase, but we are not satisfied,” said Darlington County Superintendent of Education Tim Newman. “There is a great deal yet to be done. I commend our students for their accomplishments and I encourage our teachers and our next class of students to continue to focus on our academic goals.”

South Carolina public school graduates’ average composite score increased from 18.0 in 2018 to 18.6 in 2019. Additionally, 24% of graduates met three or four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks up from 21% in 2018.

The ACT report represents 33,834 South Carolina public school students who took the ACT test, which is no longer required but is paid for by the state and administered either during a designated school day or on Saturday.

“Despite the national decline illustrated in ACT’s College and Career Readiness report, South Carolina made significant gains from 2018,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman.

“While we no longer require schools to administer the ACT to every student, we are still seeing a large portion of students taking college readiness exams without having the proper coursework to be successful,” Spearman said. “We must do a better job of making students and parents aware of the impact a challenging course schedule has on their chance for success on these assessment while continuing to raise expectations and rigor in the classroom for all students.”

Nationally, the percentages of graduates meeting the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks in math and English are the lowest they have been in 15 years. According to ACT, the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks are scores that represent the level of achievement required for students to have a 50% chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75% chance of obtaining a C or higher in corresponding credit-bearing courses.

In South Carolina and in the nation, taking the proper coursework in high school dramatically increases a student’s likelihood for success on the ACT. South Carolina students taking the ACT recommended core curriculum, who accounted for 56% of test takers, had an average composite of 19.7 compared to 17.1 for students who did not take the core curriculum.

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