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Wilson County ACT scores fall; but still above state average

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By PATRICK HALL, The Wilson Post
Wilson County High Schools managed to stay ahead of a sinking curve across the state in terms of 2011 ACT scores, posting higher scores in all subject groups than the state average, however, the county results also dropped from 2010 scores.

High school students in 2011 scored a composite of 19.7 on the ACT, compared to a composite of 19.9 last year. The state composite score for 2011 graduates was 19.5 compared to a score of 19.6 in 2010.

Were still ahead of the state in both years, said Nancy Ash, Supervisor of Testing and Accountability for the county schools.

Wilson County requires all High School juniors to take the ACT and Tennessee is one of only eight states in the country that requires its students to take the assessment test before graduation.

The ACT scores students in Math, English, Reading and Science and the highest possible score is a 36. In English, local students scored 19.7; in Math they scored 19.1, in Reading 20.0 and in Science, 19.6. By comparison, the state as a whole had a 19.4 in English, 19.0 in Math, 19.7 in Reading and a 19.4 in Science.

We are above the state average in all four subject groups, so were proud of that, said Ash.

Information released by the State Department of Education indicated nearly 75 percent of Tennessee public high school students said they hope to obtain at least a four-year bachelors degree.

These results are unacceptable, and we have to do more to ensure that our high school students academic results align with their aspirations, said Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman.

Ash said the county schools have many opportunities for students to improve their understanding of ACT test material and questions. Teachers are also shifting to make their class material more directly reflect the questions and problems found on the ACT test.

The individual high schools are doing many things to prepare the students, Ash said.

Some classes are using ACT standards for daily lessons, increasing the difficulty of everyday lesson plans, and Ash said some schools have an ACT focus of the day, that highlights one ACT question or problem each day.

Several local high schools offer special tutoring sessions on Saturdays for students preparing to take the test where they can achieve extra help with the material from their teachers.

Ash pointed out that the new standards for students in the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) tests and meeting those standards have also been applied to the ACT for high school students.

She said as the schools catch up to the increase in the standards, student scores on the ACT will improve as well as students are better prepared to tackle the challenges seen on the test.

While the scores for the local high schools were above state averages, Ash said there was still plenty of room for improvement and said they will continue to look at ways to better prepare each student.

We definitely know that there are many challenges for us, and were working diligently to meet those challenges and help our students, Ash said.

Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at phall@wilsonpost.com.

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