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Measuring Up

District’s ACT scores suggest students set for college success

August 24, 2010
It’s not the PSSA, which is taken by nearly every student in certain grade levels, but the results of another standardized test are in. The results of the ACT show Warren County School District officials that the district’s high schools are preparing students for success. The ACT is an achievement test commonly taken by college-bound students throughout the nation. The SAT, an aptitude test, is much more common in the district and throughout the east and west coasts. “ACT differs from the SAT in that it tests all four core areas – language arts, social science, mathematics, and science – while the SAT tests verbal and mathematical skills,” Director of Secondary Education Amanda Hetrick said Monday. The ACT is designed to measure “the skills needed for success in first-year college coursework.” The test is open to students in grades 10 through 12 with most of those who take it doing so in their junior year. Only 40 students in the district took the ACT in the 2009-2010 school year. But that’s not unusual. “Typically, we have somewhere between 35 and 45 students who take the test,” Hetrick said. Although the data pool is not large, the information is useful to the district. “The data provides us with some valuable feedback in that we know that students are well prepared for success by our curriculum,” she said. “WCSD students taking the ACT performed well when compared to state average scores in the four test sections,” Hetrick said in a release. “We can also, as a district, break down the data by looking at classes taken by the test takers and looking for commonalities in their schedules so that we know which combinations of classes best prepare students for success on the ACT.” Out of a total of 36 points, district students scored about 2.5 points higher than the state average on the mathematics portion of the test. In each of the other sections, English, reading and science, the district averages topped the state averages by more than one point. The average overall score for district students was 23.4 while the statewide average was 21.9. The district scores also show a marked improvement compared to last year’s. For the 2008-2009 school year, the district average was 21.7, lower than the state average of 22.1. The latest statistics available for the SAT show that 223 district students (53 percent of the 11th graders) took that test in the 2008-2009 school year. The district average score is somewhat lower than the national average, but slightly above the state average. The scores, with the district average first, the state average second, and the national average listed third, were: verbal — 497, 493, 501; math — 513, 501, 515; and writing — 484, 483, 493. The district’s scores are broken down by high school. At Eisenhower High School, 42 percent of juniors took the test in 2008-2009, scoring 521 verbal, 533 math, and 498 writing on average, the highest averages in the district. The average scores from 65 percent of Warren Area High School juniors were next highest: 500 verbal, 518 math, 490 writing. The 41 percent of Youngsville High School juniors tested scored 486 verbal, 498 math, and 466 writing, on average. At Sheffield High School, 61 percent of juniors took the SAT, and the average scores were: 469 verbal, 488 math, and 466 writing. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the district’s results on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests are not to be released until Sept.14.


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