SAT scores rose slightly this year for Charlotte-Mecklenburg students, even as national and state scores declined modestly. But on another key test, CMS students trailed their state and national peers.

The average SAT score in the three areas tested – math, critical reading and writing – rose three points to 1,492, the district announced Wednesday. The state average was 1,486, down three points from a year ago. The national average was 1,509, compared to 1,511 a year ago.

CMS students in the top-tenth percentile of test-takers scored 1,782, up from 1,765 a year earlier. Nationally, the average score for the top tenth was 1,752, up from 1,740 a year ago, and in North Carolina, it was 1,737, up from 1,722.

The district’s participation rate, however, declined for the second year in a row, falling below the state participation rate for the first time in several years. The district’s rate was 60.6 percent, down from 68.4 percent in 2008. The state participation rate stayed the same for both years at 63 percent. The national participation rate, which rose to 46 percent in 2009 from 45 percent a year earlier, continues to trail both CMS and North Carolina.

District officials said they found no apparent reason for the decline, but they said they would investigate.

“This test is a gateway test for college and we want to see more of our students taking it, not fewer,” said CMS superintendent Peter Gorman.

Unlike the SAT results, CMS students fared below state and national averages on Advanced Placement tests.

Almost half – 49 percent – of CMS students who took an AP exam scored in the proficient range, compared to 59 percent at the state and national levels.

AP classes are accelerated to give high school students familiarity with the level of rigor expected in college studies.

The SAT and AP tests are both administered by the College Board.

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