Local school districts review ACT scores
Area school districts are waiting to see what becomes of an initiative that would require all high school juniors to take the ACT college admissions test.
The Class of 2012’s ACT results were released just as students from that class headed to college this fall.
Wisconsin’s 2012 ACT composite score was 22.1.
That compares to the nationwide composite of 21.1 and to the highest ACT composite score among ACT-taking states of 22.8 in Minnesota.
Both Wisconsin and Iowa had composite scores of 22.1, meaning the two states tied for the No. 2 spot.
Wisconsin’s 2012 ACT composite score compares to its 2011 composite of 22.2.
Seventy-one percent of the state’s 2012 graduates took the exam, which was the same percentage as its 2011 graduates.
Several weeks after the 2012 ACT results were released, State Superintendent Tony Evers announced his proposal to include the four-test ACT suite for career planning and accountability.
The proposal is part of his 2013-15 education budget request.
Under the plan, all public school ninth graders would take the ACT EXPLORE assessment in the spring of the 2014-15 school year.
The ACT PLAN would be administered in 10th grade and the ACT and WorkKeys assessments in 11th grade.
In the Waupaca School District, 57 percent of the class of 2012 took the ACT test. The average score was 22.8.
The previous year, approximately 50 percent took the test, and the average score was 22.7.
District Administrator David Poeschl said the percentage of students taking the test has increased over the last three years.
Carl Eggebrecht, one of two principals at the high school, said staff members offer an ACT prep evening class prior to the test date.
That has taken place for the past several years.
“What’s interesting about the ACT is that the curriculum isn’t geared to addressing the ACT test,” said Poeschl.
Students are currently assessed through the Wisconsin Knowledge Concepts Examination.
How students are assessed will change when the Common Core State Standards go into effect in the 2014-15 school year.
Rhonda Hare, the district’s director of instruction, said the new standards will mean much deeper testing.
Eggebrecht said that in regard to the WKCE results, each department evaluates the information and will do the same under the Common Core State Standards.
Hare said this year, Measure of Academic Progress testing begins for freshmen.
“That test is different than WKCE and ACT. It measures growth,” she said.
The test is administered in the fall and spring.
Of the most ACT results, Poeschl said, “Overall, I’m pleased with the progress over the years. As we transition to the Common Core, it’s a good base. It’s a nice report, but it doesn’t speak to all that we do as a district.”
In the Iola-Scandinavia School District, 68 percent of the class of 2012 took the ACT test, and the average score was 21.9.
The previous year, 67 percent of the class took the test, and the average score was 22.6.
“We have a fairly high percentage taking the test,” said Interim District Administrator Duane Braun.
Students in the district get an idea of what to expect on the ACT test when they take the EXPLORE and PLAN tests.
High School Principal Sara Anderson said all eighth graders take the EXPLORE test and all tenth graders take the PLAN test.
“We are effectively using the ACT longitudinal assessment system,” she said.
Anderson said that in the past, a representative from CESA 5 visited the district and spent the day with the sophomores and juniors, prepping them for the ACT test.
Braun said it is about looking for ways to help prepare their students to be college and career ready.
“I think it will be good when the report cards officially come out so that we can review that data and its content and how it affects our schools. Then, we will see waht it means for ACT,” he said.
This month, the DPI is issuing a School Report Card for every public school in the state.
Anderson said that in looking at the ACT results, the district looks at the gains made during the past 10 years.
“The focus has been over time on looking at the programs and the preparedness for the students,” she said. “We’ve been more focused on what we’re doing long term.”
The district’s emphasis on writing is part of that.
“The focus,” Anderson said, “was on getting students to be better thinkers. It became evident that through writing, you can assess thinking.”
In the Weyauwega-Fremont School District, 47 percent of the Class of 2012 took the ACT test, and the average score was 22.1.
The previous year, about 51 percent took the test, and the average score was 21.9.
In the W-F district, all freshmen take the EXPLORE test, all sophomores take the PLAN test and all juniors take a practice ACT test, said Kandi Martin, the district’s director of pupil services/curriculum.
Students will take those tests on Oct. 29 as part of the high school’s Focus on Your Future Day.
On that day, there will be post-secondary career exploration for the school’s seniors.
She also said that 31 students signed up to take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Those students will take that test on Oct. 17.
District Administrator Scott Bleck said the ACT results give districts a gauge of their educational rigor.
He said the composite score is a reflection of some of the programs the district has put in place to increase the overall composite score.
“We know that our job is not done,” Bleck said.
Martin credits the high school staff for the work it does in preparing students for the ACT test.
Each core class has a question of the day. ACT prep classes have been offered.
Bleck said the district will always be looking for ways to prepare its students before they take the assessment test.
Joann Miller, the high school’s guidance counselor, said, “We feel like we are giving them the opportunities to be successful.”