An average high school senior at Hillsboro and Goessel high schools is in the top quarter of students preparing to enter college nationwide, according to scores from the ACT college admissions exam.
The average score among HHS students taking the test in 2011 was 23.9. A score of 24 is better than about 74 percent of test-takers nationwide.
GHS students taking the ACT had an average composite score of 24.9. A score of 25 is better than about 80 percent of test-takers nationwide.
For comparison, about 75 percent of incoming freshmen at the University of Kansas score 22 or above, and 25 percent score 27 or above. At both Kansas State University and Wichita State University, 75 percent score 21 or above, and 25 percent score 26 or above.
About 75 percent of incoming freshmen at Tabor College score 19 or above, and 25 percent score 25 or above. At Bethel College in North Newton, 75 percent score 21 or above, and 25 percent score 29 or above.
Hillsboro USD 410
Students at HHS had an average score of 23.9, down from 24.2 in 2010, but still above the state and national averages.
Average scores on individual subjects were 23.8 in English, 22.9 in math, 24.6 in reading, and 23.9 in science. Of the senior class, 70 percent took the test.
Superintendent Steve Noble noted that 90 percent of the students tested earned scores that indicate they are ready for college coursework on the subject of English composition, according to the ACT.
“Once again, for each of the past many years, our students have scored above the state averages in all content areas and the composite score,” Noble said. “In USD 410, we constantly talk about how ‘We all teach seniors.’
“These excellent scores are a reflection of the strong teaching and learning taking place from early childhood to a student’s senior year. It is also a reflection of dedicated parents and a community that values educational excellence.”
Goessel USD 411
GHS had the highest average test score in the county, 24.9, and the largest increase from 2010, when the average score for the school was 22.4.
Subject-specific scores for GHS were 25.4 in English, 24.0 in math, 25.4, and 24.1 in science. There were 17 students who took the test in a class of 21 students.
School counselor Janna Duerksen said credit should go to the exceptional senior class for their scores on the test. Nearly half of the students who took the test had a grade point average of 3.8 or higher.
Duerksen said she encourages students to take practice tests and use other resources to prepare.
“But mostly, they gain knowledge from the classes that they take here at Goessel High School,” she said.
“I would agree with Mrs. Duerksen and would attribute the high scores to the hard work of the students as well as the quality of education that students receive at Goessel High School,” Superintendent John Fast said.
Other county districts
Centre USD 397
Centre High School improved its average score from 20.4 to 21.2. Subject-specific scores were 19.9 in English, 21.2 in math, 20.6 in reading, and 22.2 in science.
The number of students who took the test doubled from nine to 18. Superintendent Jerri Kemble attributed that increase to an increased interest in college among the students.
She said improvement began when the board of education set a goal of increasing ACT scores. In response, the faculty began a concerted effort to prepare students. There are plans to do even more in 2011-12, she said.
“Our staff is really focusing in on making sure they (students) have what they need before they take the test,” Kemble said.
Specifically, teachers have received training to help students with “self-regulated learning.” The program tries to equip students with strategies for success, which includes attitude, prioritizing, time management, as well as strategies for specific skills.
Peabody-Burns USD 398
The average composite score for Peabody-Burns High School was 18.7, down from 22.1 in 2010. Average scores by subject were 17.3 in English, 18.0 in math, 19.1 in reading, and 19.9 in science. Of the senior class, 75 percent of students took the test, Superintendent Rex Watson said.
The decrease in average score from 2010 wasn’t a surprise for the district, he said. In a small school, differences from one class to another can have dramatic effects on test scores.
Watson said the ACT serves a purpose in helping colleges place incoming students, but he doesn’t think it is a good measurement of a school’s performance.
“The ACT test is a norm-reference test that is pretty reliable in determining three things: intellect, aptitude, and socio-economic status,” he said.
“I believe that ACT results are of very limited value to school districts because, although schools do have a huge impact on student learning, schools cannot significantly alter a student’s God-given intellect or aptitude,” Watson said. “Schools also lack the resources to significantly impact a student’s socio-economic status.”
Marion/Florence USD 408
The average composite score for Marion High School students was 22.1, up from 21.1 in 2010, surpassing both the state and national average.
Scores on specific subjects were 21.4 in English, 22.8 in math, 22.1 in reading, and 22.2 in science. Averages scores at MHS improved in every subject area.
An average MHS student’s score would have been better than about 62 percent of test-takers nationwide, and scores for all of the subject areas would be better than at least 60 percent of test-takers.
“I was pleased to see the improvement we had,” USD 408 Superintendent Lee Leiker said.
He said the district emphasizes the importance of standardized tests, including mandatory state assessments and the ACT, although there are big differences between the two.
“Our staff is always working hard to prepare students for those assessments,” Leiker said.
He said he expects MHS Principal Tod Gordon will closely watch test scores and develop an plan to continue improvement in scores.