Great Bend High School has seen its ACT Scores creeping downward in the last five year years, Superintendent Khris Thexton told the school board this past week. The average score is also below the state average.
Administrators hope improvements already implemented and others in the works will help turn the trend around.
“We have had a decline all across the board, in English, math, reading and science (scores). It’s not a trend that we want to see continue,” Thexton said. “This is an area that we feel that we’re weak, and we’re trying to get those scores up.”
Sixty-three percent of the students graduating in 2017 — 122 of 197 — took the test and their average composite score was 20.4, compared to 21.7 statewide.
Thexton mentioned some things that may have hurt the scores, but concluded, “I don’t want to make it look like we’re making excuses for this. We want to increase our rigor and that’s what ACT scores show, they show the amount of rigor that you have in the classroom.”
This past spring, GBHS Career/ACT Coordinator Lacy Wolters introduced programs to help juniors and seniors prepare for the ACT test. The gains she has made won’t be reflected until next year, Thexton said.
ACT prep can lead to higher scores. By answering practice questions, students gain a better understanding of how to take the test.
Thexton added that a trend of reduced funding for schools statewide over several years may finally be catching up with all of Kansas. The 21.7 state composite score was the lowest in the last five years; in 2014 the state average was 22.0.
“It’s not necessarily (only) a Great Bend issue, but where you put your dollars matters,” he said. “Our district is putting dollars towards those areas. I think we will start to see growth in that area very shortly.”
“There’s no simple fix to ACT scores,” Assistant Superintendent John Popp said. “It is an overall increase in the rigor of the program.” Elevating the rigor of classes and instruction can include “pushing kids into that little bit harder class,” and other counseling that helps prepare them to take the test if they plan to go to college.
“This is where we hope our individual plans of study can help us,” Popp said. “(We should) inform kids of the best track they can take to achieve what they want to do. If they can see the ACT is going to be a crucial step on the way to help them get there, they need to take that test seriously and prepare for it.
“We want to prepare our kids for life, not just the ACT test,” he added. “We want them to be successful once they leave us.”