The average score for St. Clair High School upperclassman who took the ACT college-entry exam dropped for the third straight year in 2013, but the decrease again was slight.
The test measures students’ readiness for college-ready work, and an annual report is released by the ACT organization detailing results.
Eighty-three seniors who helped comprise the SCHS Class of 2013 took the exam and earned an average score of 20.6, which is a full point below Missouri’s average of 21.6. One-hundred-thirty-eight seniors received diplomas in May.
In 2012, St. Clair’s composite score was 21.0. It was 21.1 in 2011 and 21.4 in 2010. The state average for all those years has been 21.6.
One-hundred-one SCHS students took the test in 2012.
“Our score did go down slightly,” St. Clair R-XIII School District Superintendent Mike Murphy told The Missourian. “We will continue to further evaluate our ACT results and look at the number and level of our upper-level courses we offer students.
“We need to get more students in those upper-level courses, but to do that we need to evaluate a wide range of things, including course structure. We need to look at aptitude, ability and comprehension. Those are at the core development of the ACT.”
Currently, St. Clair students who take the ACT average scoring below the state composite in all areas of focus — English, math, reading and science.
The English comparison showed the largest discrepancy as St. Clair averaged a 19.8 compared to the state’s 21.4. In math, local students tallied a 20.3 average compared to Missouri’s 21. In reading the scores were 20.6 and 21.9, respectively. The local numbers in science were 20.9 compared to the state’s 21.6.
As far as college readiness, 20 percent of SCHS students who took the test this year were deemed ready for college-level coursework in all of the four subject areas of English composition, algebra, social science and biology. Last year, that figure was 24 percent. In both years, the state’s number was 28 percent.
The ACT organization has established college readiness benchmark scores for the specific designated college courses. Those scores are: English composition, 18 on ACT English test; algebra: 22 on ACT mathematics test; social science, 22 on ACT reading test; and biology: 23 on ACT science test.
St. Clair’s 2013 scores showed that 70 percent of students who took the entry test are at the English benchmark, 40 percent are ready for college algebra and college social sciences, and 34 percent met the standard for college biology.
The ACT organization states that a benchmark score is the minimum score needed on an ACT subject-area test to indicate a 50 percent chance of obtaining a “B” or higher or about a 75 percent chance of obtaining a “C” or higher in the corresponding credit-bearing college courses.
“Again, at the end of the day, our strategy will be to focus on getting more students in our upper-level courses,” Murphy said. “We want our students to embrace their own learning because it benefits them.
“It will be challenging, but it should be.”
The state’s 21.6 composite score ranks Missouri seventh out of 20 states with similar participation rates. The national composite score was 20.9, a slight decrease from 21.1 the previous year.
Overall, Missouri ranks 23rd nationally, which is up from 26th in 2012.
The number of Missouri graduates taking the ACT declined slightly to 74 percent or 49,217 graduates, compared to 75 percent or 49,222 graduates last year. A total of 44 Missouri students scored a perfect 36 on the exam in 2013, up from 29 last year.
Three out of four (76 percent) Missouri ACT-tested high school graduates in 2013 met at least one college readiness benchmark, according to ACT’s annual report. Only 28 percent of Missouri test-takers met all four benchmarks, which was above the national average of 26 percent and an increase of 1 percent over 2012.