Local ACT score reports showed a mixed bag for area high schools, with some exceeding state and national scores and others falling short.
The latest data from ACT shows a national average composite score of 21.2. In Tennessee, the average composite score was 20.7.
For Kingsport City Schools, Dobyns-Bennett High School reported scores above the state and national averages in all areas. D-B had a composite score of 22.6 for 2007, up from 22.1 in 2006.
As for the 2007 subject areas, D-B students averaged 22.6 in English, 22.2 in math, 22.9 in reading and 22.2 in science. Thirty-five percent of D-B’s ACT-tested 2007 graduates met benchmarks for college readiness in all four areas.
“In our increase in all the subtests and in composite score from last year to this year we are very pleased,” said Dory Creech, KCS director of comprehensive school improvement and accountability. “We had a focus on science of increasing the percent that were college ready, and we did that, as well as the percent that are college ready in all four areas.”
“Our composite (score) jumped a half a point from last year ... which is a significant jump,” said Chris Hampton, assistant principal at D-B. “The state stayed the same at 20.7. So we’re right at two points higher than the average state composite, which we’re very pleased with. Over the course of four years we’ve jumped 1.4 points on the composite. So longitudinally we’re improving, but we’re sustaining that improvement — it’s not just a one-year blip.”
Hampton said the data they collect from ACT is used in curriculum planning and helping students get ready for college.
“Not only are we teaching the state standards, but we’re trying to add rigor to each of the areas that our teachers teach in.”
In Sullivan County Schools, both South High School and North High School showed improvement in composite scores versus 2006. South students exceeded both state and national averages with a mean score of 22.8. North showed an improvement of four-tenths of a percent with an average score of 19.3 for 2007.
Central High School scores remained unchanged from 2006 at an average of 20.9. East High School showed a slight drop in average scores from 19.6 in 2006 to 19.5 in 2007.
Jack Barnes, Sullivan County Schools assistant director and curriculum supervisor for grades 6-12, said the course load of a test taker can make a big difference in scores at a particular school. Systems use these scores, he said, to point out areas in need of improvement and to encourage students to take more challenging classes in the core areas.
“It shows throughout the report we get, how many students actually took core subjects and college prep-type subjects and how many did not,” Barnes said. “That makes a significant difference in some of the schools.
“What we’re trying to do is to encourage them (students) to take more of the core subjects. ... Also, we’re instating in our high schools an ACT prep course. We have it in two of our schools, so hopefully that will help the situation.”