ACT score results are in and the test showed that Fairfield County students scored well below the national average.
Fairfield Central High School students taking the ACT averaged scores of 14.4 in English and 16.2 in reading, respectively. Those scores were well beneath the national average.
However, the mean composite scores remained unchanged for Fairfield County, and those scores at 16.2 were lower than the state average of 20.2. When one considers the demographics of Fairfield Central High School, at 93 percent African American, three percent Hispanic and four percent Caucasian, and that the South Carolina average ACT composite score for African-American students was 16.6 compared to 22.2 for white students, then the 16.2 score while in need of improving is a more understandable result due to cultural discrepancies among test takers.
“The School District of Fairfield County recognizes considerable improvement is still needed to meet and exceed state and national averages. Our district will continue to provide intensive ACT preparation sessions for students and information sessions for parents,” said Dr. Andrea Hicks, director of secondary education for Fairfield County Schools.
This year a primary emphasis district wide is on literacy instruction in every content area. Students will be required to read, write, research, speak and listen in English, math, science, social studies and in electives. There will be a shared responsibility for student literacy because students have to read for information in every content area.
Additionally, principals and members of the curriculum and instruction department will be participating in yearlong series of professional development sessions for literacy leaders designed to support schools and districts in efforts to strategically implement practices to help improve literacy instruction.
The results show there is room for improvement for all South Carolina students who are taking the test.
According to the South Carolina State Department of Education, the national average composite score for all-students was 21.1, unchanged from the previous year. The South Carolina all-students’ average composite score was 20.2, a gain of one-tenth of one point.
South Carolina students overall made incremental gains in their scores on the curriculum based assessment test. Similar incremental gains were seen last year as well.
Unlike the SAT which measures how students think in a classroom setting and outside of a classroom setting, the ACT is a curriculum-based achievement exam designed to measure the academic skills that are taught in schools.
Seventy-eight more students took the ACT this year, and the test is a tool to help many of them achieve the next step in their scholastic goals..
S.C. Superintendent of Education Mick Zais said, “Behind every statistic is a real student with real aspirations. The students, parents, and teachers all share in the credit for these gains. Congratulations to these students for their hard work and perseverance.”
Zais, however, raised issue with the state’s lagging scores, which are behind the national composite score in each subject area, with particular emphasis on the subject area gaps in reading and English.
The national ACT average score for all students in the reading subject area remained unchanged from 2011 at 21.3.
The South Carolina ACT average score for all students in reading increased one-tenth of one point to 20.4, narrowing the gap between state and national averages to 0.9 points.
The national ACT average score for all students in the English subject area decreased by one-tenth of one point to 20.5, while the South Carolina ACT average score for all students in English increased by one-tenth of one point to 19.5.
The decrease in the national average and increase in the South Carolina narrowed the gap by two-tenths of one point, resulting in a gap of 1.0 points.
“While college admissions tests are imperfect indicators of school effectiveness, the data confirms a trend: reading skills remain an area of great concern,” Zais said. “Nationwide assessments continue to show a reading gap between South Carolina and the nation. Addressing the reading gap must be our top priority because reading is fundamental to everything else in a student’s education. If a student cannot read, they will not succeed in school.”
The newly released state-level ACT scores are from students who graduated in 2012, regardless of when they took the test during their high school careers. The ACT includes four tests: English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning.
Scores are reported in each of those as well as the overall composite using a 36-point scale.