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Originally published: 2012-10-15 13:18:13
Last modified: 2012-10-15 13:18:13

Embracing our grades

If Watauga County had been one to rest on its laurels, our community would still be an isolated blip on a NCDOT map full of roads that stop just west of Wilkesboro. Instead, from its university to its mountains, our tradition has been to embrace a future bigger than our present. 

That tradition is robust today in our education system. Watauga County students rank second in North Carolina for average SAT scores -- behind only Chapel Hill-Carrboro, a school system a mountain removed from the challenges of more-limited resources and rural setting.

Watauga's distinction is impressive. It speaks to an education system in constant forward motion and a student body with a strong aptitude for learning -- which is the measure of the test.

Such scores do not arise from wishful thinking. They are the result of hard work, dedicated educators, parents who care about their children's futures and a desire to steadily improve. 

It is this desire that crystallizes the challenges yet before our school system. While Watauga County students consistently score above state and national averages on both the SAT and the more learning-based ACT, individual subjects scores indicate room for improvement. Compared to ACT scores in other state school systems, Watauga students ranked fourth in math and seventh in science.

While it is true that our students outranked surrounding areas and the state in those subjects, "this is an area of concern," as Assistant Superintendent David Fonseca said.

With this concern in mind, there is little doubt that Watauga students, educators and families will embrace the challenge it presents. After all, we're building on tradition -- and no mountain road was ever built by resting on our laurels.