SAT scores down in South Carolina, AP scores up

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH, AP) -- South Carolina's graduating seniors posted lower scores on the SAT college entrance exam for the third consecutive year.

But the percentage of high school students earning college credit in 2010-11 by passing Advanced Placement tests increased.

The state Education Board said Wednesday that the Class of 2011's average composite score on the SAT's math, reading and writing portions was 1,436. That's seven points below last year. The national average dropped six points to 1,500. The test has a maximum possible score of 2,400.

"We attribute that to the fact that students aren't able to read their math textbooks," said Education Department Spokesman Jay Ragley. "If you can't understand your math texbooks, you're not going to understand mathematics."

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In South Carolina, 85 percent of the nearly 26,500 test-takers attended public schools.

Critics say funding cuts to public education is a factor in the low scores.

"Elected offcials need to start treating public education as an investment, not an expense," said South Carolina Education Association Spokeswoman Joanie Lawson.

Last month, ACT scores were released in the Palmetto State. Seniors improved their scores for the third consecutive year. Despite the increase, scores remain below the national average.

Both the ACT and SAT are accepted by most colleges. The SAT has historically been the more popular in South Carolina, but ACT participation continues to grow.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)