ACT scores up at district high schools

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 23, 2000

Students at Vicksburg Warren School District’s two high schools have improved their scores on a national college entrance test and have bested the state average at the same time.

But the scores on the American College Test taken by students at Vicksburg High School and Warren Central High School during the 1999-2000 school year still were not up to the national averages.

Students from Vicksburg High School had an average composite score of 19.1, up from 18.7 in the 1998-99 school year. Warren Central High School students had a composite score of 19.3, compared with 19.0 in 1998-99.

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The Mississippi average was 18.7 for both the 1999-2000 year and the previous year. National scores were 21.0 for both years.

The scores were based on all students who took the ACT. A perfect score on the ACT is 36.

“We will take any increase we can get,” said Donald Oakes, superintendent of the Vicksburg Warren district.

At the same time, he could not account for the difference in the scores at Vicksburg and Warren Central.

“We did have a student who made a 35 at Vicksburg, but that would not have raised the score a full point,” he said.

Oakes said one factor in the improvement could be the workshops teachers have been attending on how to teach students to do better on standardized tests.

Also, Oakes said, districts realize the importance of students doing well on the tests.

“If they don’t show improvement for a couple of years, principals could lose their jobs, and superintendents could lose their jobs,” he said, pointing at state laws that use the tests to measure accountability.

“I think it is great when we have even a 10th of a point increase,” Oakes said. “That shows we are making steady progress.”

The ACT is taken by students who plan to attend college and is designed to measure learning potential rather than knowledge. Students are timed on the test, which is broken into sections of English, math, reading and science reasoning.

Another college entrance exam, the Scholastic Aptitude Test, or SAT, also is offered here. The SAT, on which a perfect score is 1600, is broken into two sections, verbal and math.

Colleges and universities in Mississippi and elsewhere use the scores to predict success in college and as part of an admissions formula.