Archive for Wednesday, September 29, 1999

Dip in ACT scores concerns school officials

September 29, 1999

Despite workshops held to raise student ACT test scores last year, the numbers still fall below the state average, said Mike Bogart, Tonganoxie High School principal.

Eighty Tonganoxie High School students who took the ACT test last year tallied an average composite score of 21.2, falling just below the state score of 21.5

"It's alarming," said Unified School District 464 Superintendent Richard Erickson. "It's something that we definitely want to improve and that will be a goal for this year."

In mathemathics, THS students' scores averaged 21.0 points, the same as the state average. Science scores topped the state average, with THS at 21.7 and the state following at 21.5.

THS students fell back in English, ranking an average score of 20.0 against the state average of 21.0.

In reading, THS fell behind again, netting an average score of 21.4, compared to the state average of 21.9.

Bogart said he was also concerned because last year's composite score of 21.2 was lower than the previous year's 21.5.

"This disturbs us a bit because we had given the kids extra help in studying for the test," Bogart said. "Sixty of the 86 students who took the test had attended the study sessions we gave to help them prepare."
The study sessions consisted of two-hour classes given on the four Wednesdays prior to the test.

"We're not sure what impact we had on the kids," Bogart said.

The same time period showed a drop in the state average ACT composite scores from 21.7 to 21.5, and a national average that remained at 21.0.
"So, perhaps it was just a year that was an anomaly," Bogart said.
Overall, Bogart said, THS scores have risen.

"We're probably more interested in the long-term scores over a period of years," he said. "That might tell us more than any one year."
The baseline scores that Bogart uses to compare THS scores were from 1995, when the THS ACT composite scores averaged 20.5.

Bogart said the school district plans to hold the ACT workshops again this year.

"We hope that these workshops will be well-attended and that they will be able to show an impact on test scores," he said.

Another tool to help students prepare for the ACT is what Bogart called advanced placement classes. These include higher-level chemistry and calculus courses.

"The upshot is that kids go into these courses knowing that more is expected of them and that they will be really challenged," Bogart said.

Students enrolled in the advanced placement classes have the option of taking a test that if they score high enough will give them college credit. There is a fee to take the test and the grade for the class will not be included in the student's future college grade-point average.

Additionally, the high school offers several classes such as an advanced English and biology class in which the students can receive college credit from an area community college.

Bogart said the district will continue offering the advanced placement classes, along with the college credit classes and the ACT preparation course.

Tight budget constraints won't cause a cutback in the course offerings, Bogart said.

"We have gotten quite a lot of mileage out of the available staff," Bogart said.

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