Elkin surpasses state averages for all ACT components

Taylor Pardue Staff Reporter

August 23, 2013

Elkin scored higher than North Carolina’s average in all five of the components of the ACT test.

North Carolina released the data on the 2013 graduating class’ ACT exams, and Elkin scored better than the average in English, mathematics, reading, science, and the composite portion.

Elkin scored 18 out of a 1-36 scale in English. North Carolina averaged 17 out of 1-36.

Elkin scored 20.2 in mathematics. North Carolina averaged 19.6.

Elkin scored 19.3 in reading. North Carolina averaged 18.8.

Elkin sc0red 19.6 in science. North Carolina averaged 18.7.

Elkin scored 19.4 in the composite portion. North Carolina averaged 18.7.

North Carolina’s ACT scores for the graduating class of 2013 reflect the state’s first year of requiring ACT participation from every student.

All North Carolina high school seniors in the 2013 graduating class took the ACT, with 18.7 points as the average score on a scale of 1 to 36.

The graduating class of 2012 scored an average of 21.9, a 3.2-point drop for the first year of mandatory testing.

North Carolina chose to institute mandatory ACT testing as the test continues to replace the SAT as the preferred college entrance exam.

The ACT has four separate exams to the test: English, reading, mathematics and science - as well as an optional writing assessment.

Prior to the state’s requirement approximately 20 percent of students elected to take the ACT. The state’s average scores were then higher than the national average.

In 2012 only 12 Elkin students took the ACT. After the mandatory 100 percent rule took effect 83 students took the exam.

North Carolina is only one of nine states to make the ACT required for 100 percent of its students.

Although the averages dropped, the results were not totally unexpected.

“The State Board of Education made a bold decision to measure college readiness for all students,” said State Superintendent June Atkinson. “When we began this process, we knew that our first scores would be lower, but it is important to get a true picture of where we are in order to improve. We know we have our work cut out for us in terms of raising student expectations and preparing 100 percent of our students for community college — or university-level work.”

Elkin High Principal Joel Hoyle said the numbers released yesterday were a bit confusing because the scores reflect what juniors did in March of 2012.

Since then a second graduating class has taken the test in March, 2013, but those scores have not been released yet.

Hoyle said the STEAM initiative starting this year in Elkin City Schools would fit perfectly with the focus on ACT scores.

“I think this is where us moving to a STEAM system should help our students out,” Hoyle said, “Because one of the goals is starting with the younger ages we’re going to start incorporating more science, technology, engineering and math in the curriculum.”

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics. ECS will be the first school system in the state with a STEAM focus starting in the new school year August 26.

ACT scores will also factor into each school’s ‘report card,’ Hoyle said.

Under a new N.C. program each school will be evaluated by a report card with five areas: graduation rate, percent passing Algebra II, EOC scores, Workkeys - a career-readiness test - and the school’s ACT scores.

In addition to the test junior year, all sophomores take a test in October called the ACT Plan, essentially a practice exam to highlight areas the students need help in like science or math.

Eighth graders take an even earlier practice exam called the ACT Explore.

Results from these assessments are considered to be diagnostic tools that students, their parents and their school counselors can use to help guide course selections and career and college planning.

Summary results from these assessments show that students in the Class of 2014 are likely to earn higher ACT scores than the Class of 2013.

Hoyle said the mandatory testing also enabled everyone, not just those planning to attend college, to take the ACT for free their junior year. Prior to this students had to pay for either the SAT or ACT on their own, with neither provided by the school system.

Students may opt to pay for additional tests to improve their scores, but every student will get at least the one opportunity. That score can then be used in place of a SAT for college admissions.

Other states that have instituted 100 percent testing have seen a similar drop before rebounding. Kentucky, for example, saw a drop to 18.3 in its average scores in 2007-2008, but has since risen to 19.6 in 2013.

The national average of ACT scores also dropped, from 21.1 in 2012 to 20.9 in 2013.

To contact Taylor Pardue call 336-835-1513 ext. 15, or email him at tpardue@civitasmedia.com.