Janesville45.3°

Janesville ACT scores below average again

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
August 18, 2010
— Janesville high school students as a group continue to lag behind the state average on the ACT, the most common college-readiness test taken in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin is among the highest-scoring states on the ACT. However, Janesville Parker High School’s average ACT score is below even the national average this year.


Janesville Craig’s scores are above the national average but below the state average.


The Janesville School District average score is 21.2, down from 21.9 last year.


The state average is 22.1. The highest possible score is 36.


Janesville has not exceeded the state average in 10 years, according to state online records. In three of those years—2001, 2003 and 2006—the Janesville score equaled the state average.


Craig’s average score this year, 21.5, is down from the 22.2 posted by 2009 Craig grads. Parker’s average also dropped, from 21.4 to 20.7.


“We would like performance to be higher,” said Kim Ehrhardt, the Janesville School District’s new director of instruction, who said he had discussed the matter with the principals of Craig and Parker high schools.


“We need to find out what is going on and look at what we need to do differently to improve the scores,” Ehrhardt said.


The scores are said to be predictors of college success, and universities scrutinize them when deciding whether to admit a student.


UW-Whitewater, a popular local choice, reports that the average ACT score for last year’s freshmen was 22.


UW-Madison “typically” admits students who score between 26 and 30 on the ACT.


Neither institution has a minimum required score for admission.


One way to improve ACT scores is to better align what is taught with what the ACT tests, Ehrhardt said.


Another way is to prepare students even before they get into high school, Ehrhardt said. To that end, the district recently formed “vertical teams” of educators from middle and high school. They will examine test data and discuss ways to improve in English, math, science and other areas.


Ehrhardt said he did not know of any concerted local effort to improve ACT scores before the vertical-team effort.


What strategies the teams will come up with have yet to be determined, but Ehrhardt said higher expectations for students are important.


“We need to have more rigor in programs,” Ehrhardt said.


The ACT stresses a “core curriculum” as being helpful for college preparation. Students who take the ACT-recommended core curriculum—at least four years of English and three years each of math, science and social studies—tend to do better on the test.


Breakdowns for minority groups and other data at the local level were not immediately available. The Department of Public Instruction said it would post full results on its Wisconsin Information Network for Successful Schools website next week.


ACT SCORES

These are the average composite scores for the ACT college-readiness test for 2010 graduates:


State: 22.1


Craig High: 21.5


Janesville: 21.2


Nation: 21.0


Parker High: 20.7


Note: The Department of Public Instruction expects to post scores for all Wisconsin public schools on the website of the Wisconsin Information Network for Successful Schools next week. The WINNS website can be accessed at gazettextra.com/act.

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