ACT test scores for graduates of local high schools in 2018 were mostly up overall, but math and science scores were either static or down.
Participation and scores were up in Council Bluffs Community School District, said Julie Smith, executive director of secondary education, during a presentation at Tuesday’s board of education meeting. About 46 percent of 2018 graduating seniors took the test – up from 42 percent the previous year, she said. Of the 263 students who took the test, 45 percent were males and 55 percent were females.
“Our average composite was 20.6,” she said. “That’s the second-highest in the last five years.”
It was up from 20.5 last year.
The state average slipped from 21.9 to 21.8, while the national average fell from 21 to 20.8, according to a chart Smith presented at the meeting.
English and reading scores were also up, reaching their second-highest and highest level in the last five years. The average district score for English was 20.3, up from 20.1 the previous year. The average for reading was 21.8, up from 21.6.
However, science and math scores were down, Smith said. Science fell from 21.2 to 20.8, and math slipped from 18.9 to 18.8 – still the second-highest in the last five years.
State and national averages were down across the board, with average state English scores dropping from 21.2 to 21, math slipping from 21.3 to 21.2, reading dipping from 22.6 to 22.5 and science declining from 22.1 to 22, the chart showed.
Nationally, English slipped from 20.3 to 20.2, math fell from 20.7 to 20.5, reading dipped from 21.4 to 21.3 and science slid from 21 to 20.7.
In the Lewis Central Community School District, 75 percent of 2018 graduates took the test, according to Joel Beyenhof, high school principal. That was actually down a little from last year, he said.
“We had an increase in the total number of students who took the ACT from the class of 2018, but we also had a significant increase in the size of the class and number of graduates,” he said. “Therefore, the percentage was slightly down.”
Three more students took the test, and 21 more students graduated, Beyenhof said. The group tested was comprised of 45 percent males, who averaged a composite of 22.2; and 55 percent females, who averaged a composite of 21.6.
All of the average scores were either up or the same as last year, he said.
The average composite score was 21.9, up from 21.6. Of all the students tested (not just 2018 graduates), 84 received a composite score of 25 or higher, down slightly from 85 last year.
Average subject-area scores were, English, 21.7, up from 21; math, 20.7, unchanged; reading, 22.7, up from 22.4; and science, 21.9, unchanged.
Beyenhof believes one factor contributing to the improved scores is Lewis Central’s emphasis on life after high school.
“We have a goal that 95 percent of our graduates will have plans to attend a four-year college, two-year college, vocational school, trade school, pursue an apprenticeship or serve in a branch of the military,” he said.
Other contributing factors include the percentage of students taking college-credit or college-level courses in high school and the requirement that students take a college readiness or workplace readiness class in order to graduate, Beyenhof said.
At St. Albert High School, 52 of the 53 2018 graduates, or about 98 percent, took the ACT test, according to David Schweitzer, high school principal and president of St. Albert Catholic Schools. That’s a quantum leap forward from 2017, when 35 students took the test, according to an ACT summary.
With so many more students, average scores were lower in most categories. The average composite score was 21.7, down from the 2017 average of 22.4.
The average scores for subject areas were, English, 22.2, up from 21.9; math, 20.4, down from 21.7; reading, 22.3, down just slightly from 22.4; and science, 21.4, down from 23.
Heartland Christian School did not respond to requests for information.