The St. Clair R-XIII School District is “moving in the right direction” as far as ACT scores are concerned, but officials agree more work needs to be done to continue improvements.
High school Principal Kevin Hillman and Assistant Superintendent Tanya Vest discussed the district’s test scores with school board members during their September meeting.
Currently, St. Clair students who take the ACT average scoring slightly below the state average in all categories, including the composite. According to 2012 data, the district’s average score earned by students was 21.0 compared to the state mark of 21.6. Statistics showed that 101 SCHS students took the test this year.
The English comparison showed the largest discrepancy as St. Clair averaged a 20.3 compared to the state’s 21.4. In math, local students tallied a 20.5 average compared to Missouri’s 21.1, in reading the scores were 21.6 and 21.9, respectively, while the numbers were 21.2 and 21.5 in science.
“St. Clair High School is moving in the right direction (with ACT scores),” Hillman said. “But we understand the work we have ahead of us and what we have to do.”
Hillman and Vest also discussed a strategic plan to improve ACT scores with board members. It centers on better preparation and awareness as well as restructuring the algebra curriculum.
Hillman used one provided ACT statistic to back his statement about SCHS students getting better in this area. The statistic showed that 24 percent of St. Clair high-schoolers who took the test are ready for college in four criteria — English composition, algebra, social science and biology.
“That’s better than it has been,” the principal said. “Historically, St. Clair has been at 14 to 18 percent.”
The state average is 27 percent.
Information provided to board members stated that “while students will pursue a variety of paths after high school, all students should be prepared for college and work. Through collaborative research with postsecondary institutions nationwide, ACT has established ... college readiness benchmark scores for designated college courses.”
Those scores are:
•English composition: 18 on ACT English test.
•Algebra: 22 on ACT mathematics test.
•Social science: 21 on ACT reading test.
•Biology: 24 on ACT science test.
Since 2008, St. Clair ACT scores in all four areas have improved by almost a point or more.
The strategic plan presented to the board lists six specific target areas.
First comes analyzing the student ACT scores and comparing them to high school courses that have been taken starting with the 2011-2012 graduating class.
Next is to put together an ACT blitz, described as a one-day “cram session” prior to the test date.
On the Friday before the ACT, information will be shared with the students about the test. Included will be “cram session” which will focus on the individual parts of the test the students will see when they take it as well as question-and-answer and motivation sessions.
Along with that, a redesign of the after-school ACT testing preparation sessions will take place.
The sessions take place on early-out Wednesdays for five weeks leading up to the test and will be broken down for specific instruction in each area.
An algebra curriculum restructuring includes increasing the “rigor for students to have success on the ACT and other academic areas.” Information states that the current curriculum was not allowing students to be exposed to information in which they will be tested.
Discussion and planning also has started for an after-school program to help with a variety of student educational needs, including ACT improvement. Board members approved the plan on Thursday. According to district information, the goal for the program is for it to be a true improvement of individual student needs.
Finally, recruitment of students to take the ACT is listed. Hillman said the goal is to have each student who takes the test to take it at least twice. He said many students show an improvement after their first score.