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County’s ACT figures remain mostly unchanaged

Published 5:12pm Tuesday, August 30, 2011

More Alabama high school students than ever before are taking the ACT college entrance exam. According to the latest information released by ACT, however, the number of those taking the exam in the Butler County School District has remained more or less static during the last few years.

In a graph of five-year trends created by ACT, the district had 133 students taking the test in 2007. That number increased to 145 in 2008, but dropped to 134 in 2009, 133 in 2010 and 132 in 2011. In comparison, state totals for students taking the ACT have steadily risen over the last five years from 34,187 in 2007 to 37,800 in 2011.

The ACT consists of curriculum-based tests of educational development in English, reading, math and science designed to measure the skills needed for success in first-year college coursework.

ACT has established college readiness benchmark scores for designated college courses: 18 for English Composition; 22 for College Algebra; 21 for Social Science and 24 for College Biology.

In Butler County, the English Composition score averaged 16.8, compared to a state average of 20.4. In Mathematics, the average score locally was 16.6, with 19.6 at the state level.

The average score in Reading was 17.7 in the district, compared with 20.7 in the state.

In Science, the average score for the district is 17.4 compared to 20.1 at the state level.

The average composite score locally is 17.3; on the state level, it is 20.3.

Average scores on the state level have remained steady, with minority students improving and scoring higher than the national averages for specific ethnic/racial groups, while the average score of Caucasian students has dropped at the state level (21.6 percent state average versus 22.4 percent national).

According to research conducted by ACT, it is not the number of core courses that determines greater student success in preparing for college; it is the rigor of the courses taken, something that Superintendent Darren Douthitt has stressed during his tenure in Butler County.

Douthitt said he believes Greenville High School’s involvement in the Advanced Placement Incentives Program, which promotes expansion of AP classes at the school, and expansion of the ACCESS Direct Learning Program in the county’s schools could help the district boost its testing numbers. ACCESS uses satellite and Wi-Fi technology to allow students to take coursework not offered in their own schools.

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