The average SAT score for North Carolina's high school seniors saw gains in 2013, even as the average score nationally stayed the same.
The N.C. Department of Public Instruction said Thursday that the more than 58,000 students who took the key test for college admissions had an average combined score of 1,479, a 10 point increase from the prior year.
Despite the improvement, North Carolina still lags behind the national average score of 1,498, which remained unchanged from last year.
State Superintendent June Atkinson said she was pleased by the progress, especially an uptick in the scores on the reading portion of the test.
"I fully expect to see our seniors' scores continue to improve as students benefit from the Common Core State Standards," said Atkinson, a Democrat, referring to a nationwide academic initiative opposed by some conservatives.
The number of North Carolina seniors taking the SAT in 2013 dropped 8.2 percent from the previous year. The state has long had a higher rate of students taking the test than other areas of the country. In 2012, however, all high school juniors took the ACT for the first time as part of a new state program. As a result, many students can use their ACT results for college admission and not have to pay fees to take the SAT.
North Carolina students also saw a nearly 7 percent jump in passing scores on Advanced Placement exams. The tests provide high-performing high school students with college credit in specific subjects. The three most popular AP exams taken were in English language and composition, U.S. history and psychology.