St. Martin Superintendent of Schools Richard Lavergne said the parish results “were disappointing.” The composite score for the parish slipped from 19.5 in 2010 to 18.4 this year, almost as low at the 2001 mark of 18.1.
The state’s composite ACT score for 2011 reached 20.2, one-tenth of a point better than 2010’s 20.1. The state composite has risen from 19.6 in 2011.
Within the parish, Breaux Bridge High students had the highest composite ACT score at 18.7, trailed by Cecilia High’s 18.4 and St. Martinville Sr. High’s 18.0.
But scores dropped at all three schools compared to 2010.
The Cecilia composite dropped by 1.5 points while Breaux Bridge slipped 1.1 points. St. Martinville dropped only .8 of a point.
According to La-vergne, parish scores were weakest in the English portion of the test, with a decline of 1.3 points (19.3 in 2010 to 18.0 in 2011). Science scores decreased from 19.8 to 18.6 points while math scores slipped from 19.3 to 18.3.
Lavergne said the data shows that local students are taking fewer high level courses, which he feels is a major contributor to the decline. “Parents must help us encourage our students to take more rigorous courses, such as honors and AP, throughout high school if they are planning to pursue a college education,” he says.
In a effort to promote this, Lavergne said the district will conduct “academic audits” to focus on increasing rigor across the curriculum at all grade levels. Breaux Bridge High has implemented a daily reading program called Directed Independent Reading Time (DIRT), which gives all students the opportunity for structured daily reading. The school also has an ACT prep class.
Cecilia High has incorporated an Advance Placement course in English to improve the rigor in that curriculum. And SMSH has developed a partnership with Sylvan Learning Center in which students will take the practice ACT and share the results with parents and students while providing instruction in the areas of need.
“Although the parish 2011 ACT scores showed a decline,” says Lavergne, “it is important to note that the schools and the district had been steadily increasing their ACT scores since 2005, with very small fluctuations from year to year.”
The ACT exam is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, and students receive a composite score, which represents an average of their reading, English, math, and science scores. The ACT is designed to measure the skills and knowledge taught in the nation’s high schools and deemed essential for success in college and the workplace. The test is administered to high school students in all 50 states and is utilized by most Louisiana colleges and universities to determine eligibility for admissions, scholarships, and placement in college courses.
The average national ACT composite score for 2011 was 21.1.
In 2010, 47 percent of the nation’s high school graduates took the ACT with an average composite score of 20.0.
During the same year in Louisiana, only 8 percent of the state’s graduates took the test and scored 20.1.
In neighboring Texas, 33 percent took the test with a composite average of 20.8. In Mississippi, 96 percent of the graduates took the test, scoring 18.8, while 22 percent of Arkansas’ grads took the test and scored a 20.3 average.