St. Charles Parish seniors making the grade

School system’s ACT composite score up from last year and above state

St. Charles Parish Public Schools made the grade with this year’s ACT composite score of 20, ranking it among the state’s top 15 public school systems.

“Seventy-seven percent of the students earned the ACT scores needed to enroll in community colleges, technical schools or universities,” said Rachel Allemand, the system’s assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. “This is an increase of two percent from 2014.”

The system’s student college entrance exam score was up from last year’s 19.8. This year’s score also ranked above the statewide average of 19.4, although below the national average of 21.

“While we are excited to see these increases, the district will continue to work toward having a higher percent of students eligible for enrollment in postsecondary institutions,” Allemand said.

The system’s steadily improving score is by design.Each year, district and school personnel review the ACT scores to identify strengths and challenges, she said.

The school improvement teams develop action steps to address areas of need, which can include actions such as use of ACT practice items during instruction, providing free student access to on-line ACT Prep software, and providing ACT Prep classes during the school day and on weekends.

“The ACT scores are one indicator of student success,” Allemand said. “The St. Charles Parish Public School System is committed to offering a comprehensive educational program for students including academic courses, career and technical education programs, the arts, and physical and social development.”

ACT scores are ranked on a 36-point scale. Each public high school student must take the ACT, whether or not they plan to attend college. The students’ scores help determine their eligibility for TOPS college scholarships. The scores also factor into individual school grades.

Louisiana is one of only 10 states to administer the ACT to all high school students.

Prior to 2012-2013, only students who planned to attend college would usually take the ACT. Now, students take the ACT whether they plan to attend college or not, according to Allemand.

This impacted the average composite scores in the state and does not allow for accurate comparisons with scores prior to 2012-13.

ACT scores slightly improved this year in Louisiana public schools, marking the second straight year of performance growth. On average, Louisiana students scored a 19.4 on the 36-point scale, up 0.2 from last year, according to data released July 16.

Last year’s score was up from the previous year’s 19.1. The slow-but-steady progress shows a state push toward higher expectations has paid off, state Education Superintendent John White said.

This year, St. Tammany Parish school had the highest score at 21.5 followed by Central Community Schools, 21.1; Orleans Parish, 20.9; Zachary Community Schools, 20.7; Ascension Parish, 20.6; Livingston Parish and West Feliciana Parish, both 20.5; Cameron Parish and Vernon Parish, both 20.4; Beauregard Parish and Lincoln Parish, both 20.3; Plaquemine Parish and West Carroll Parish, both 20.1; and Lafayette Parish, which tied with St. Charles Parish, both with 20.East Baton Rouge Parish’s score ranked lowest in the state at 14.2.

Statewide, a record number of high school seniors earned scores of 18 or higher on the ACT, leading to more graduates entering college without needing to take remedial courses, according to the Louisiana Department of Education.

Among seniors in spring 2015, 24,619 students earned a college-going score (18+), an increase of nearly 1,000 students from 23,660 in 2014 and an increase of more than 6,300 students from the 18,307 who met the mark in 2012. Among particular student populations, African-American students saw the greatest ACT gains.

Forty percent more African-American students earned a college-going ACT score this year than did in 2012, growing from 5,202 in then to 7,287 now – an increase of more than 2,000 students.

The number of Louisiana students achieving qualifying scores at all levels of TOPS scholarships also grew. Nearly 1,000 more students achieved a TOPS score this year than did in 2014, and the number of TOPS-eligible scores has risen by 7,372 since 2012.

Additionally, the number of high school graduates enrolling in college has grown significantly from 19,826 in 2011 to 22,972 in 2014, representing a 16 percent increase.

 

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