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Scores on the ACT college-entrance exam dipped this year, ending a three-year streak of gains for students in Beaufort County's public schools.
The county school district's average score among 2011 graduates was 20.1 on a 36-point scale -- in line with the state's average but one point below the national average and six-tenths of a point below the performance of 2010 graduates.
The ACT assesses high school students' general knowledge and college-readiness through four multiple-choice tests: English, math, reading and science. An optional writing test measures students' ability to plan and write a short essay.
All but one local high school, Battery Creek, exceeded the average score of 19.9 for the state's public schools.
Hilton Head Island High School also beat the national average by 1.5 points, with a 22.6 average. That mark, however, was six-tenths of a point lower than last year.
Bluffton High School's average slipped, too, down to 20.1 from 20.8.
Beaufort High School's average held steady at 20.3.
Battery Creek's average trails the rest of the district's schools. Students' average score there was 16.9, down from 2010's average of 17.7.
About 350 district students took the test this year, about 50 more than in 2010. District spokesman James Foster said the dip isn't alarming when that fact is considered.
"The main thing that's amazing is that the numbers aren't that down, even though participation is up," Foster said.
The ACT is one of two college-entrance exams in the U.S. The other is the College Board's SAT. Though colleges and universities in South Carolina accept either score, most South Carolina students take the SAT. About 350 Beaufort County students took the ACT in 2011.
Results for the county's private high schools were not immediately available Tuesday.
Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.