After two straight years of achieving its highest composite score on the ACT college entrance exam, the Muscogee County School District fell back this year.
MCSD had increased its score the past three consecutive years, from 18.6 in 2014 to 19.7 in 2017, but it decreased by 0.3 points to 19.4 in 2018 -- although still matching its second-highest score since the district started keeping track 13 years ago.
The highest possible ACT score is 36.
Meanwhile, the Georgia state average remained at 21.4, and the national average decreased by 0.2 points, from 21.0 in 2017 to 20.8 in 2018.
Kendrick and Northside are the only MCSD high schools out of nine that improved their ACT composite score. (See chart.)
MCSD’s average score decreased on all four ACT subject tests:
▪ Down 0.2 points in reading, from 20.2 in 2017 to 20.0 in 2018.
▪ Down 0.3 points in English, from 18.9 in 2017 to 18.6 in 2018.
▪ Down 0.5 points in math, from 19.5 in 2017 to 19.0 in 2018.
▪ Down 0.2 points in science, from 19.6 in 2017 to 19.4 in 2018.
The good news in MCSD’s 2018 ACT results, which were released Wednesday, is that more students took the test, increasing from 857 (43 percent of eligible students) in 2017 to 902 (44 percent) in 2018. MCSD had 823 test-takers (41 percent) in 2014.
“I am pleased with the increasing number of test-takers and the overall upward trend over time,” MCSD superintendent David Lewis said in a news release. “However, we must continue to push students toward challenging coursework in order to prepare them for this and other important assessments as well as post-secondary readiness.”
The 2018 results for the other college entrance exam, the SAT, haven’t been released.
As opposed to Georgia, where students can choose either exam, Alabama public schools administer the ACT to all of their juniors as an accountability test required by the state.
For example, the 2018 Alabama high school graduating class data includes test records for students who tested during the 2015-16, 2016-17 or 2017-18 academic years, indicated they will graduate in 2018 and achieved a college reportable composite score. “Only the most recent test record is retained for students who test more than once,” Lee County Board of Education accountability and assessment coordinator Michelle Rutherford told the Ledger-Enquirer in an email.
Harris County now is the only local public high school with an ACT composite score that isn’t worse than the national average.
That’s because Harris County has matched the national average. While the national average decreased by 0.2 points, from 21.0 in 2017 to 20.8 in 2018, Harris County’s score increased by 0.1 point, from 20.7 with 211 test-takers in 2017 to 20.8 with 250 test-takers in 2018.
“We are please that our scores have continually risen over the past five years,” Harris County assistant superintendent for curriculum Dave Dennie told the Ledger-Enquirer in an email. “Our focus on continuous school improvement at all levels has helped with the increases.”
Harris County’s composite score is its highest in five years, but it still lags 0.6 points behind the state average of 21.4.
“We are slightly below the state average in each of the categories,” Dennie said. “To address this issue, we will continue working on school improvement using CCRPI (College and Career Ready Performance Index) to guide our focus, as each portion of the ACT really correlates to a portion of CCRPI.”
Out of the ACT’s four subject tests, Harris County improved on three and remained the same on one:
▪ Up 0.1 point in English, from 20.0 in 2017 to 20.1 in 2018.
▪ Flat in math at 19.9.
▪ Up 0.3 points in reading, from 21.4 in 2017 to 21.7 in 2018.
▪ Up 0.2 points in science, from 21.0 in 2017 to 21.2 in 2018.
ChattCo led local public schools in ACT improvement, increasing its composite score by 1.8 points, from 18.4 with 12 test-takers in 2017 to 20.2 with 20 test-takers in 2018.
“ChattCo continues to have a growth mindset in all areas of our performance,” principal Sandi Veliz told the Ledger-Enquirer in an email. “We are pleased to see that the sustainable practices being implemented daily are netting improved achievement for our students.”
The scores improved in all four ACT subject tests:
▪ Up 1.5 points in English, from 17.3 in 2017 to 18.8 in 2018.
▪ Up 2.1 points in math, from 17.9 in 2017 to 20.0 in 2018.
▪ Up 1.2 points in reading, from 18.9 in 2017 to 20.1 in 2018.
▪ Up 1.8 points in science, from 19.2 in 2017 to 21.0 in 2018.
“We are incredibly pleased with the growth of our students in all categories of the ACT,” Veliz said. “In addition to adding an SAT/ACT prep course last year, our teachers have increased the level of rigor being taught in daily lessons and focused learning on anchor standards designed to provide a solid foundation of understanding.”
ChattCo narrowed its gap with the state average, from 3.0 points in 2017 to 1.2 in 2018, but Veliz seeks more improvement.
“What displeases us most about these results is that we are below state level in all categories,” she said. “We will continue our work in the SAT/ACT courses as well as adding intervention time for targeted students in core areas. Additionally, we believe our new vocabulary initiative will support our students as they prepare for the ACT.”
Central’s composite ACT score had the largest decrease among local public schools, dropping 0.9 points, from 17.9 with 403 test-takers in 2017 to 17.0 with 409 test-takers in 2018.
“We’re disappointed,” said Phenix City superintendent Randy Wilkes, who last week was named the Alabama Superintendent of the Year for the school system’s accomplishments, including a 0.6-point improvement on the ACT from 17.3 in 2016 to 17.9 in 2017. “We’ve already made changes in our curriculum and instruction to accommodate and make a difference, and we’re striving every day to make a difference, especially in ACT scores. So we will have better results in the future.”
Wilkes explained some of those changes.
“As a whole, the Class of 2018 as juniors did not perform well,” he told the Ledger-Enquirer in an email. “Therefore, during their senior year, efforts within the school were made to prepare students for the ACT WorkKeys. Students receiving a bronze level status or higher on the WorkKeys exam increased from a baseline of 61% in 2017 to 71% in 2018.”
The WorkKeys is a curriculum designed to improve career readiness.
Also concerning Wilkes are the “notable drops” in all the ACT subject tests:
▪ Down 0.8 points in English, from 16.9 in 2017 to 16.1 in 2018.
▪ Down 0.9 points in math, from 17.8 in 2017 to 16.9 in 2018.
▪ Down 1.1 points in reading, from 18.2 in 2017 to 17.1 in 2018.
▪ Down 0.8 points in science, from 18.1 in 2017 to 17.3 in 2018.
“We have revised our continuous improvement plan to include research based teaching strategies to be implemented in all core classrooms,” Wilkes said.
Russell County’s composite score decreased by 0.4 points, from 17.7 with 219 test-takers in 2017 to 17.3 with 236 test-takers in 2018.
The scores decreased on three of the four ACT subject tests:
▪ Down 0.3 points in English, from 17.0 in 2017 to 16.7 in 2018.
▪ Up 0.2 points in math, from 17.0 in 2017 to 17.2 in 2018.
▪ Down 0.4 points in reading, from 18.1 in 2017 to 17.7 in 2018.
▪ Down 0.9 points in science, from 18.1 in 2017 to 17.2 in 2018.
- Participation in “Strategic Teaching” professional development sessions.
- Implementation of ACT Preparation courses for all 11th-graders.
- Increasing students’ awareness through grade-level academic and data-driven assemblies, where students are given test data and tips for successful test-taking.
- Offering grade-level incentives for students who meet or exceed benchmarks.
- Offering after-school tutoring sessions ,which were implemented last school year.
“We have a strong instructional leader, principal Shelia Baker, as well as a committed faculty and staff who will embrace this as an opportunity to rise above the challenges,” Coley said. “We have collaborated with faculty and students, analyzed data and developed a plan of action to improve ACT data for the 2018-2019 school year.”
Although its composite score dipped by 0.1 point, from 18.5 with 440 test-takers in 2017 to 18.4 with 476 test-takers in 2018, Smiths Station still has the best ACT performance among neighboring east Alabama schools Central and Russell County.
“SSHS scores have remained consistent and overall are less than one point below the state average in each area,” Lee County superintendent Mac McCoy told the Ledger-Enquirer in an email. “We would like SSHS to continue to improve and surpass the state average.”
The Alabama state average also dipped by 0.1 point, from 19.2 in 2017 to 19.1 in 2018.
In the ACT subject tests, the SSHS scores decreased in two and remained the same in the other two:
▪ Flat in English at 17.7.
▪ Flat in math at 17.8.
▪ Down 0.2 points in reading, from 19.3 in 2017 to 19.1 in 2018.
▪ Down 0.3 points in science, from 18.8 in 2017 to 18.5 in 2018.
“We are never satisfied with our results and always want to get better,” McCoy said. “We continue to emphasize standards-based instruction and the use of formative assessments to address individual student needs.”
Mark Rice, 706-576-6272, @MarkRiceLE.
MCSD ACT RESULTS
Muscogee County School District high school composite scores on the ACT college entrance exam:
Note: For the third straight year, Early College Academy of Columbus isn’t in the GaDOE’s spreadsheet of ACT scores because it again had less than 15 students take the ACT, meaning too few to report. Early College’s average ACT was 18.2 in 2015.
LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT ACT RESULTS
Columbus area school district composite scores on the ACT college entrance exam: