By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer
The average ACT score for Clinton High School students has remained the same as last year, but the number taking the test is up from two years ago, Clinton School District Curriculum Director John Jorgensen reports.
In Iowa, the average ACT score for 2012 was 22.1, the second highest among the nation for states where more than 50 percent of high-school graduates take the exam. The national composite average was 21.1.
Clinton High School students who took the test scored an average 19.1, the same score from 2011.
“Last year we had about 80 percent of kids taking the test,” Jorgensen said of the 2012 figures.
In the previous year, 85 percent of students took the test. Before the district began striving for a higher percentage of test-takers, only 45 to 50 percent took the test. The district saw its highest composite average, 21.7, in 2010.
The Clinton schools have made a conscious effort to test more of their students, a move Gov. Terry Branstad and Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass are pushing statewide.
“What happens is on test day we rent a room out and have tables set up and when juniors get to school we put them on a bus,” Jorgensen said.
The students are taken to a room at Wild Rose where they take the rigorous test.”
“The reason we do that is, we really feel strongly about students being college and career ready,” Superintendent Deb Olson said. “We still face the paradigm that less than 15 percent of our population in Clinton County has a college degree.”
Jorgensen said he knew the average score would go down once a greater percentage of students were taking the test based on students’ varying educational and career goals. Ultimately, no matter a student’s goals after high school, the intent of the district is to prepare them enough to make remedial courses after high school unnecessary.
“The goal is to step out of a high school classroom and into a college classroom and be successful without skipping a beat. Or, step out of a high school class room and into a trade occupation and be successful,” Jorgensen said.
He added the Clinton School District is about two years behind reaching this goal. The district is, however, ahead of the curve in terms of the percentage of students that take the ACT.
Jorgensen touted the Clinton School District as being “ahead of the game” on ACT testing in the state, with plans to continue testing a large percentage of students, no matter their academic goals.
“We’re one of only two districts, I believe, that tries to test all of our students,” he said.
In response to the release of ACT average scores last week, Glass called on schools to test more of their students, as Clinton High School has done.
“I’m proud that Iowa’s average composite score is tied for second in the country among states that tested more than half of students in the Class of 2012; however, we’re still testing only 63 percent of students. If our goal is to have a world-class education system, we must set the right expectations for college and career readiness and then follow through with an exam as an important measure,” Glass said.