DeKalb School District Shows Improvement in ACT Scores

October 10, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Dr. Kathy Bryant and Director of Schools Patrick Cripps

The 2017 average composite score on the ACT for students in DeKalb County has gone up from last year though it fell short of meeting the state goal of 21

According to the Tennessee Department of Education, the average composite score for DeKalb County is 18.8 compared to 18.25 in 2016.

Scores in science, reading, math and English also improved going from 18.97 to 19 in science; from 18.82 to 19.6 in reading; from 17.03 to 17.5 in math; and from 17.55 to 18.6 in English.

“We are really proud of the hard work our students are putting forth and the time and work our teachers are putting in, not only the content they are teaching but with the importance they are giving the ACT test. We are very happy with the progress we have made over the past year and we challenge our students and teachers to strive to continue those gains,” Director of Schools Patrick Cripps told WJLE.

Dr. Kathy Bryant, Supervisor of Instruction for Grades 7-12, cited several reasons for the improvement.

“Last year we implemented ACT prep-online for students and we also implemented ACT prep for all subject areas with direct instruction. We had 4 teachers, each teaching one of the four subjects of science, reading, math, and English. Students went through nine weeks in each of those courses and by the end of the year they completed all four. Not only were they getting ACT prep but they also received a credit by taking the courses. Of course students were able to do an ACT retake last year which may have had an impact as well,” Dr. Bryant told WJLE.

Although the ACT scores were up, they still lagged behind the state. The new composite average for the state is 20.1, which is up from the 2016 average of 19.

State scores in the four subject areas in 2017 were as follows:
*19.6 in English, up from 19.5 in the previous year.

*20.5 in reading up from 20.4 in the previous year.

*19.4 in math, up from 19.2 in the previous year.

*20.3 in science, up from 20.1 in the previous year

Dr. Bryant said the school system will continue ACT prep-online and direct instruction with an emphasis on teaching those ACT standards within all core classes as the district works toward reaching its Composite ACT score goal of 21.

“We are really excited about our progress and want to do more because the higher the students ACT scores are the better their chances for obtaining college scholarships,” added Dr. Bryant.

The statewide results showed that about 1,800 more Tennessee public school graduates became eligible for the HOPE scholarship. That means they earned composite scores of 21 or higher.

“The ACT allows our students to show they are college and career ready, and crossing the threshold to 20.1 shows we are on the right pathway to prepare more students for life after high school," Education Department Commissioner Candice McQueen said.

Across the state, the results showed students improved in every section of the ACT by increasing their average score in English, reading, math, and science.

According to McQueen, Tennessee is one of 18 states that requires all students to take the ACT or SAT. It's also the first and only state to offer a free opportunity to retake the exam. The Department of Education said nearly 26,000 class of 2017 students took advantage of the ACT Senior Retake Day last fall.

The department said if a student takes the ACT multiple times, it uses the best score. The national ACT results are based off the last score a student received.

ACT results serve as a nationally normed-measure to indicate college and career readiness. Under a new accountability measure, called the Ready Graduate, earning a 21 on the ACT is one of the four ways that students can indicate that they are prepared for life after high school and able to seamlessly enroll in postsecondary education and enter the workplace or the military.

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