Archive for Thursday, September 1, 2005

ACT scores lag behind state, nation

Basehor-Linwood establishes class to help students with test

September 1, 2005

The bad news: The composite ACT test score of Basehor-Linwood High School students last year is below both state and national averages.

The good news: School district and high school administrators already have taken steps to boost scores in the future.

The ACT exam, along with the SAT, are the two most commonly used admissions exams for college. Four-year universities in Kansas predominantly use the ACT exam in the admissions process; the exams are offered to both high school juniors and seniors several times each year.

The average score for the 97 Basehor-Linwood students taking the test last year was 20.6, more than a point below the state average of 21.7 and slightly below the national composite of 20.9.

Other local schools, Bonner Springs and Tonganoxie, scored an average of 21 and 21.2, respectively.

Basehor-Linwood assistant superintendent Bill Hatfield, who's primarily in charge of district curriculum, indicated the district isn't pleased with the results and already has initiated plans to raise the scores.

"Are we happy or satisfied? No. We're looking for improvement," Hatfield said.

And a new course at the high school could pave the way to that improvement. This year, the high school is offering an elective course that concentrates solely on ACT test study and preparation.

A total of 60 BLHS students are enrolled in the class.

"We think that will make a significant impact," Hatfield said.

Although the ACT scores weren't met with smiling faces by the school district, not all is bleak on the academic front. Next month, the school district hopes to receive final confirmation from the state department of education regarding last year's results from the Kansas assessments.

Preliminary results, and those promoted by the school district, indicate Basehor-Linwood schools earned state standards of excellence marks in 13 of the 18 areas tested. Each school in the district received at least one standards of excellence rating, according to the preliminary results.

Hatfield said the school district's curriculum has been rebuilt in recent years to "stress the importance of the Kansas assessments." Future adjustments to the curriculum will focus in part on improving ACT tests scores, he said.

One cause of the low ACT score in Basehor-Linwood may stem from the sheer number of students taking the test. Nearly 100 BLHS students took the exam; in Tonganoxie, 67 students took the test, while 62 Bonner Springs did.

The high school has never had more students take the ACT in a single year, school officials said.

According to district information, this year's ACT average is the lowest it's been in five years. Last year's score also marked the first time since the 2000-01 school year that the district's composite score dropped below 21.

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