St. Clair High School students who took the ACT college-entry exam posted the highest average score in several years in 2014 and tallied the same composite as the state average.

The numbers reversed a declining trend of several years and gave SCHS its highest composite this decade.

The test measures students’ readiness for college-ready work. An annual report is released by the ACT organization detailing results.

“This is quite a celebration,” St. Clair R-XIII School District Assistant Superintendent Nadine Aitch told The Missourian on Monday. “I don’t have enough data yet to know why exactly what helped us improve so drastically as a district, but I know we spent a lot of time as a district working on a lot of things.

“I don’t think we can credit the turnaround to one single thing. It’s a combination of many different things. But I do know that our students are more engaged.”

Aitch credited professional development in the faculty that has allowed for student growth, better test preparation for the students, an increased focus on literacy, work on the district’s curriculum, raising the rigor of standards and the use of technology.

“I think our success is the combination of many good things,” she said.

Ninety-four SCHS students who took the test earned an average score of 21.8, which matched the state and was more than a point higher than last year’s SCHS average score of 20.6. In this decade, St. Clair’s scores have been 21.4 in 2010, 21.1 in 2011, 21.0 in 2012 and the 20.6 last year.

The state had been stuck on 21.6 until this year’s 21.8 tally.

Eighty-three SCHS students took the test last year.

“I think we should commend our staff and students first and foremost,” SCHS Principal Mike Hunter told The Missourian. “It is nice to see the amount of effort on both their parts get rewarded.”

College Readiness

The ACT organization has established college readiness benchmark scores for the specific designated college courses.

Last year, St. Clair students who took the ACT averaged scoring well below the state composite in all areas of focus — English, math, reading and science.

This year, that’s not the case as SCHS improved in all four areas.

In English, St. Clair students outscored the state average by earning a 22.0, which is 2.2 points higher than a year ago. The state average this year was 21.6. 

In math, the local and state tallies are the same at 21.1. St. Clair’s score is up eight-tenths of a point from a year ago.

In reading, SCHS improved from a 20.6 to a 22.2. The state’s 2014 average is 22.3.

St. Clair’s science score is 21.5, which is up 0.6 of a point. The state average is 21.7.

As far as college readiness, 21 percent of SCHS students who took the test this year are 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 20 percent.

The state’s numbers are 28 percent this year and 29 percent last year.

However, St. Clair’s students are more ready than the state average for college English at 84 percent to 72 percent. The scores are the same at 51 percent for college social sciences and at 45 percent for college algebra.

St. Clair students lag behind in college biology readiness at 34 percent compared to the state average of 29 percent.

“That tells me we still have some work to do in that area,” Aitch said.

Across Missouri, 48,865 student took the ACT.

Aitch said next spring, the state is requiring for the first time that all juniors, whether they are considering college or not, take the ACT.

“We’ll have to see how that reflects on the scores,” she said.