by nathan oster
Greybull High School students continue to post gains on the American College Test (ACT), the standardized test that is used in high schools nationwide to assess the college readiness of students.
The Wyoming Department of Education recently released the results of the testing that was done during the 2016-17 school year — and once again, GHS juniors bettered both the state average as well as the score of the juniors that took the test in 2015-16.
The 20.6 posted by the 42 GHS juniors who took the test last school year represented “the highest composite score that GHS has had” since 2009, according to Ty Flock, the building principal. He said 2009 was the year that the state started requiring all juniors, not just those intent on attending college, to take the ACT.
The state average composite score was a 19.7.
The 20.6 also topped the 20.1 composite score that GHS juniors posted in 2015-16.
Breaking down the results a little further, GHS students averaged a 21.3 in math, a 20.8 in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), a 21.3 in reading and an 18.6 in English.
“I’m very proud of the fact that this is the highest composite that we’ve had,” said Flock. “I’m also very proud of our individual scores, too. When you look at our math, our STEM and our reading, to have each of those come in higher than our overall composite is pretty impressive.”
Flock added that “a combination of factors” explain why GHS students are trending upward on the ACT, including a greater emphasis on reading. But that in the end, “It’s not just a success for GHS, but for our whole district,” noting that the ACT is a reflection of what the kids learned in elementary school, middle school, and in their first three years at GHS.
With its 20.6 composite, the Big Horn County School District No. 3 test-takers ranked second in the county. Only District No. 4, with a 21.4, posted a higher score. District No. 2 finished with a 20.2 and District No. 1 a 19.8.
“We have the privilege of offering the ACT to every student and will continue to do so as we add WY-TOPP to our assessment system,” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow, in a release from the Wyoming Department of Education. ”This is not the time to be complacent. At the state level we will continue to focus on every measure for student success and support schools helping students succeed in school and in life.”
In the spring of 2017, students in grades 11 took the ACT, and for the second year, students in grades nine and 10 took the ACT Aspire online. Schools had the option to offer the ACT online this past spring, marking the first time that option was made available in Wyoming. The tests are intended to predict college readiness. These results will be used to determine school performance ratings.
On the ACT Aspire, GHS freshmen posted a composite score of 424.7, which was slightly below the state average of 425.6. Across the board, they scored a 428.1 in English, 424.8 in math, 421.6 in reading and a 424 in science.
GHS sophomores posted a composite score of 429.2; the state average was a 427.4. Their scores in the subject areas were 433.1 in English, 428.6 in math, 426 in reading and a 428.6 in science.
Starting in the 2017-18 school year, students will take the Wyoming Test of Proficiency and Progress (WY-TOPP). The new test will assess proficiency in reading and math for students in grades 3-10, science for students in grades 4, 8, and 10, and writing for students in grades 3, 5, 7, and 9. It will be an online, adaptive assessment with various item types such as multiple choice, technology enhanced, and constructed response. The results will be comparable to students’ scores from other states and will be used for accountability purposes.
Flock said students will still have to take the ACT, but that their performance on the test “will carry far less weight” in the state’s accountability system.