UNION COUNTY — A test that measures the college readiness of all students in public high schools is a break from the past that sets a new baseline against which student performance will be measured from year to year according to Union County School District Chief Academic Officer Cindy Langley.
In a statement released Thursday, Langley discussed the results of this year’s ACT testing program which requires that all high school seniors be tested to determine their college readiness. Langley said that the requirement that all students take the test versus previous tests which required only some seniors to be tested, skews any comparison with the results from previous years. As a result, Langley said this year’s test establishes a new baseline for future comparison and determination of student progress.
“Scores of Union County High School seniors in the Class of 2016 will provide a baseline for student performance on the ACT,” Langley said. “As part of the College and Career-Readiness Initiative in South Carolina, all students in public high schools now take the ACT to measure college readiness in their junior year.
“As a result of this practice, which began in the spring of 2015, the score report for the Class of 2016 at Union County High School includes the scores of 243 seniors, which is more than triple the number of 75 students who took the ACT in the Class of 2015,” she said. “The increase in the number of seniors taking the test skews any comparison to student performance within the county in previous years.”
Langley pointed out that the average composite score for Union County seniors was 16.6 on the ACT’s 36-point scale compared to the state average of 18.5. In 2015, the composite score for the district was 17.8 compared to the state at 20.4. Scores on the individual subject area tests followed a similar pattern.
In English, the district’s composite score in 2015 was 16.5 compared to 19.8 for the state. In 2016, the district’s composite score in English is 15.0 compared to 17.3 for the state.
In Mathematics, the district’s composite score in 2015 was 18.1 compared to 20.2 for the state. In 2016, the district’s composite score in Mathematics is 16.9 compared to 18.5 for the state.
In Reading, the district’s composite score in 2015 was 17.9 compared to 20.9 for the state. In 2016, the district’s composite score in Reading is 17.1 compared to 19.0 for the state.
In Science, the district’s composite score in 2015 was 18.1 compared to 20.4 for the state. In the 2016, the district’s composite score is 16.7 compared to 18.6 for the state.
Langley pointed out that the ACT has established college readiness benchmark scores for designated college courses with scores indicating how well a student might do in a particular course.
“Students meeting the minimum benchmark score have a 50 percent chance of obtaining a B or higher in the identified course or a 75 percent chance of scoring a C or higher,” Langley said. “The benchmark score for English Composition is 18 on the ACT English Test; College Algebra, 22 on the ACT Mathematics Test; Social Science, 22 on the ACT Reading Test; and Biology, 23 on the ACT Science Test.”
In terms of the percentage of students ready for college at the time of testing, Langley the ACT results showed the following:
• 31% of the students at Union County High School met the benchmark for College English compared to 44% statewide;
• 14% for College Algebra compared to 25%;
• 20% for College Social Science compared to 30%;
• 9% for College Biology compared to 21%.
Only 5% of the district’s students met the benchmark in all four areas compared to 14% statewide.
The next step for the district will be to use the data to identify courses students need to be successful in college.
“Our next step is to analyze the data more thoroughly to determine how the students in the top 20 percent performed as well as how the students who take the most advanced courses performed,” Langley said. “We will use the data to identify the concepts that students need to know to be successful in college courses but that are missing from our curriculum including a review of the foundational skills needed. Most importantly, we will work to create a culture beginning at the elementary schools that all students will graduate from Union County High School college and career ready.”
This story submitted by the Union County School District.