HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - For the first time in history, Horry County Schools beat out the national average for ACT scores.
The results were released early Wednesday morning to the school staff. They show the national average to be 21.0 and the South Carolina state average to be 20.4.
Horry County Schools beat both, with an average score of 21.4 for the 2015 graduating class. It is up four tenths, which may not seem like a lot on paper, but the district points out it is a big jump for the way the exams are scored.
The highest possible ACT score is 36. More than one thousand graduating students took the ACT last year, the same amount as the year before.
The ACT is an achievement test, measuring what your student learned in school. It is different from the SAT, which is more of an aptitude test looking at reasoning and verbal abilities.
Another way the two tests differ is in how the scoring system works. The SAT penalizes you for wrong answers, the ACT is scored based on the number of correct answers with no penalty for guessing.
It also has an interest inventory, which helps your student figure out potential careers based on his or her interests.
HCS credits added resources, including virtual learning, for the score bump.
"Virtual learning is economical, it's very efficient for students who are self-motivated who manage time well. It really allows them to put more in their backpack either to meet requirements for what their future plans are or to structure around other interests they have," explained Teal Britton, a spokesperson for the school district.
Starting around five years ago, HCS opened up the portal for virtual learning, a way for your student to take classes online.
"There are many more choices, more chances, than our public would realize that not only allows students to personalize but to take rigorous and off the grid courses," said Britton.
She pointed out it gives an equal playing field for students, no matter where they go to school. For example, if your student is in a smaller school this allows him or her to take classes, such as Advanced Placement courses, which may not be available otherwise.
It also opens up classes for students to take during the summer.
Britton also suggested working with your student's guidance counselor to map out the best path to take with coursework leading up to graduation.