ACT scores for the St. Clair High School Class of 2017 are below the state average.
The national college-entry exam measures students’ readiness for college-level work. The highest possible score is 36.
The Class of 2017 composite score was 19, which dropped slightly from 19.3. The composite score is the average of the most recent ACT scores of all graduates. The national average for the Class of 2017 was 20.8
All 11th-graders in the state of Missouri were required to take the exam this year.
The state average is 20.4, up from 20.2. Nationally, 60 percent of students took the ACT, with a composite score of 21.0.
In English, St. Clair students scored an average of 18, compared to the statewide average of 19.8. In math, students scored an average of 18.8, as compared to the statewide average of 19.9.
For reading, students scored an average of 19.5, as compared to the statewide average of 20.8. For science, students scored 19.2, as compared to the statewide average of 20.5.
At Thursday’s St. Clair School Board meeting, Superintendent Kyle Kruse said although the drop in scores is disappointing, there are programs in place to help prepare students in the future such as the new K-eighth Go Math! curriculum and retraining teachers on the Missouri Learning Initiative, he said.
“I’m also optimistic that in the coming years as we incorporate the new math series and re-emphasize our Missouri Reading Initiative training, that those changes will pay off as those kids move through the system and take the ACT,” he said.
“It’s funny about education, some changes you make, they just take time to truly see the impact, and the impact builds over time,” he added.
High School Principal Jennifer Davis said changing the science curriculum this year to where students will learn chemistry as sophomores will be beneficial since there are a lot of chemistry questions on the ACT.
Eighth graders will learn physical science and freshmen will take biology.
Additionally, Davis said there will be a focus on preparing students who to want take career ready tests such as the WorkKeys test or the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test.
Melissa Husereau, director of teaching and learning, said having students take ACT benchmark tests will help determine what areas they need help in. She also said that free and reduced lunch students can receive a voucher from the ACT organization that allows them to take the test more than once a year and have access to online test prep.
Expanding students’ vocabulary with words that might be used in a question, beyond the subject matter being asked, is another tactic being used throughout the English and social studies departments, according to ICU teacher Paul Codespoti.
“They might know the information about the question that’s being asked, but if they don’t know some of the words around what’s being asked there – you’re going to get five, 10 points on the test just because of that,” Codespoti said.
In July, the school board approved continuing to provide the ACT to juniors at the district’s expense.
The state of Missouri will no longer pay for students to take the ACT starting in 2018 due to a $4 million assessment budget cut. Missouri had paid for 11th- grade students to take the ACT since 2015.
It will cost the St. Clair School District $8,000 to $9,000 for students to continue taking the ACT.
If students do not want to take the ACT, they will have the option to take the WorkKeys test or the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test. It will be required for students to take one of the three tests.
The new math curriculum for K-eighth was implemented this year, Kruse said. The school board approved in May to replace the old math program, ST Math, with Go Math.
The new program aligns with both the district and Missouri learning standards. It includes MAP preparation, spiral reviews and students learn collaboration, problem solving, and how to do multi-step problems.
Go Math! also is a cohesive and consistent program, which were qualities that were lacking in ST Math.
The school board entered into a six-year contract with Go Math! costing $137,000.