South Carolina is seeing a troubling trend with its SAT college entrance exam results; statewide scores for public school students dropped for the fourth consecutive year.

But students are doing better earning college credit. More than 1,800 additional students earned “passing” scores on the Advanced Placement exam compared to last year, and the overall number of test-takers increased by 14.3 percent to 21,432 students.

On the SAT college entrance exam, the state's public high school seniors scored a composite 1,422 out of a possible 2,400, or 800 on each of the exam's reading, math and writing sections. That's down five points from 2011.

The state again fell below the national average of 1,477, which also dropped four points from the previous year.

A press release from the state Department of Education used the same quote as last year from State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais on this issue. Zais said addressing the reading gap in elementary school must be the state's top priority because reading is fundamental to everything else in a students' education.

In the Lowcountry, Charleston and Dorchester 2 schools bucked the statewide trend of falling SAT averages. Charleston saw its composite average score rise 16 points to 1,442, and suburban Dorchester 2 had its overall average improve by 12 points to 1,463.

Berkeley County schools saw its composite average fall four points to 1,443, and the average in rural Dorchester 4 slipped 35 points to 1,332.

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