ACT scores for the Washington High School Class of 2013 dropped two-tenths of a point — but are still higher than state and national averages.
The college-entry exam measures students’ readiness for college-level work.
Washington’s overall composite score for all graduates on the ACT for 2013 is 22.7.
This year’s graduates also scored higher than the state average in each of the subject areas tested, which include English, math, reading and science.
For the ninth consecutive year, Missouri’s ACT composite score remained at 21.6. This ranks Missouri 7th out of 20 states with similar participation rates.
The national composite score was 20.9, a slight decrease from 21.1 the previous year.
The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score. The test is the most popular college-entry exam in Missouri and other Midwestern states.
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.
The number of Washington High School graduates taking the test also dropped this year with 201 students, compared to 209 last year, and from a high of 211 in 2009.
WHS Principal Dr. Frank Wood said he’s pleased WHS graduates scored above state and national averages, but more work needs to be done both in getting more students to take the test and improving scores.
“By looking at the scores in each of the subject areas we can tell the kids who took the higher-rigor classes did better than those who did not,” he said. “It’s our job to educate students and their parents that the higher level classes are a necessity to do well on this test.
“Also part of that education process, is letting parents and kids know what the ACT can do for them,” he added. “There are a lot of scholarship opportunities out there based on the scores.”
Wood said that education process is under way.
“Last year we met with the junior class parents and really hit on the ACT and its importance, and we have seen an increase this year in the number of students taking the ACT prep classes, so that’s good,” he said. “But we can do more and we will.”
The district also as a whole is exploring adding a program that offers a series of tests over a number of years that helps students realize the importance of the ACT and how they can prepare for the test.
Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer said Washington High School students have consistently scored above the state average in every area of the ACT.
“Although we are happy to be higher than the state average, we always wish to continually improve, both in the number of students who take the ACT as well as in performance,” she said. “Students really need to take upper level classes. We always stress the importance of reading as well. Avid readers typically score quite well on the ACT.
“Sometimes students can get caught up in grade point averages and therefore shy away from classes that they believe might be too hard,” she added. “We need our students to be challenged, and taking harder courses will prepare them for the ACT and for college.”
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.
Officials said an achievement gap still persists in Missouri with 5 percent of African-Americans and 18 percent of Hispanic/Latinos meeting all four benchmarks on the ACT.
A benchmark score is the minimum score needed on an ACT subject-area test to indicate a 50 percent chance of obtaining a “B” grade or higher or about a 75 percent chance of obtaining a “C” grade or higher in the corresponding credit-bearing college course.
College- and career-readiness is a goal of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Top 10 by 20 initiative, which calls for Missouri to rank among the top 10 performing states in education by the year 2020.