NCSS students score below state, nation on ACT

COVINGTON - Averages of the 2008 ACT scores at each of Newton County's three public high schools were below state and national averages, according to results released by the Newton County School System Wednesday.

The composite system average was 19.1, while the state's average was 20.6 and the nation's average was 21.1.

The ACT, which many colleges and universities across the nation use to determine admission to their schools, has a possible high score of 36 and tests students in English, math, reading and science. The composite score is an average of all four sections.

At individual NCSS high schools, averages were below the state in each of the four subject areas, and, therefore, the composite areas. Last school year, no school average was above the state or national averages except Eastside High School's science average that tied with the state.

"Since the ACT is one of the most widely accepted college entrance exams in the nation, the performance of our students in general educational development is very important," NCSS Superintendent Steve Whatley said in a press release. "Given that it is the rigor of high school course work which has the greatest impact on college readiness, we will be reviewing our standards for course work performance and the delivery of instruction to determine what adjustments need to be made. We want our students' performances to improve in all skill areas needed to succeed in college course work."

The average composite scores at Alcovy and Eastside high schools did improve from last year. Alcovy's average composite for 2008 was 18.7, compared to 18.2 for 2007, and had averages exceeding ones from 2007 in all categories. Eastside's average was 20.4 in 2008, compared to 20.2 for 2007, and had averages meeting or exceeding averages from 2007 in all categories.

"While ACT scores don't reflect how the school as a whole is achieving, I am proud of the continued progress exhibited by our students," said Dave Easterday, principal of Alcovy, in a press release.

Newton High School's average composite dropped slightly from 18.9 for 2007 to 18.5 for 2008.

"Improving academic achievement has been and will continue to be the focus at Newton High," said Roderick Sams, principal of Newton High School, in a press release. "We will continue to make the necessary adjustments to improve all assessment scores, including the ACT."

Whatley and the three high school principals said they are pleased with the number of students who take the test, which increases each year.

This year, 128 students tested at Alcovy High School, 131 at Eastside High and 216 at Newton High; last year, 45 students at Alcovy took the test, while 133 took the test at Eastside and 187 at Newton High. The number of test takers also increased across the state and nation.

"More students taking the ACT is a positive step toward more students striving for post-secondary educational opportunities," Sams said.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.