Basehor ACT scores see drop again
The answers aren't so simple when it comes to some questions on the ACT, said Basehor-Linwood High School principal Sherry Reeves on Monday.
The test demands a level of critical thinking and investigative skills that a state assessment test doesn't.
Nor were simple answers evident Monday evening as the Basehor-Linwood school board pondered strategies for improving BLHS students' ACT scores, which fell for the third straight year in 2010.
The BLHS class of 2010 recorded an average composite ACT score of 21.2 out of 36 points possible. That puts them between the U.S. Average of 21 and the Kansas average of 22. The class of 2009's average was 21.5. Since 2007, when the graduating class recorded an average score of 21.8, the district's average has fallen each year.
But in a breakdown of the 2010 graduates' scores, BLHS principal Sherry Reeves emphasized that the composite score painted only a rough picture of students' performance.
Reeves said the portion of graduating seniors taking the ACT had been increasing — an increase of 64 percent since 2006. As more students' scores are lumped into the school's average, that average is likely to fall a bit, she said.
Nancy Silverforb, counselor at BLHS, said data showed a clear link between individual ACT scores and the toughness of the curriculum chosen by graduates. Silverforb said about one-third of BLHS 2010 graduates filled the curriculum requirements for the Kansas Board of Regents' State Scholar program, meaning they took more challenging courses than required simply for admission to a regents university, especially in math, science and foreign languages. Students who filled State Scholar requirements scored an average of 24.8 on their composite ACT, 3.6 points above the school-wide average.
Reeves said a tougher curriculum especially helps students perform well on the difficult science section of the ACT, where only 24 percent of BLHS graduates met the ACT's standard for college readiness.
“Hard work will enable you to be successful,” she said.
School board member Doug Bittel said the data suggested the district should toughen its curriculum standards, perhaps even requiring students to fill the State Scholar requirements.
“I'm sure we would have a huge outcry, outrage, if we did that, but why not do it?” Bittel said.
Silverforb said some students and parents shied away from tougher courses because they feared it would hurt their grade-point average, while they knew they just needed to score a 21 on the ACT to qualify for admission to a Board of Regents university. But higher ACT scores, more than higher GPAs, were the key to a number of scholarship programs offered by the universities, Silverforb said.
“To too many of our families, 21 is good enough,” Silverforb said.
Also on Monday night, the board:
• Voted, 5-2, to continue the district's membership in Schools for Fair Funding. Members Richard Zamora and Gary Johnson voted against.
• Approved, 7-0, a release and settlement agreement.
• Approved, 7-0, the appointment of a kindergarten aide for Linwood Elementary School.
• Approved, 7-0, a price quote from Apple Computer for new computers for Basehor-Linwood Middle School.