Clinton High School Principal Karinne Tharaldson Jones said she and district leaders knew they would see a dip in ACT scores, but it's a risk they took to benefit the students.
"If all you're worried about is what it looks like your school is versus what it actually is, you're never going to get better. Our school does the right thing for all kids, all the time," Tharaldson Jones said. "Yes, we did have a dip in our scores, but it's still the right thing. You don't want just some kids to take the test. You want all of the kids to have the opportunity to go on. If they don't have the ACT they're not going on. "
With the school district paving the way for students to take the test and prepare for college, officials hope to alleviate some of the pressure navigating a standardized test can cause while also opening doors. Many Clinton students will be the first of their families to go to college, Schrader said.
The Clinton population with a bachelor's degree or higher is 10 percent less than the percentage that attained the same level of education across the state. While nearly 25 percent of Iowans age 25 or older have a bachelor's degree, 15 percent of the Clinton population fits into the same demographic, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
"Giving the test is only one component of modifying a student' s perception about opportunities available to each person upon graduation. We believe in our students and their abilities, we want to provide an opportunity that they had not considered," Clinton Superintendent Deb Olson said.
Some of the other options Olson refers to are college visits, fairs and planning seminars offered by the district.
All of these initiatives play into the district's goal to boost not only students' belief that they can pursue some sort of college education, but the amount of students that actually do.