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Newton County students: ACT scores lower than state, nation

COVINGTON - Average 2009 ACT scores in Newton County were below state and national averages again this year.

According to results released from the Newton County School System last week, the composite system average from students at the three public high schools in the county was 19.2, while the state average was 20.3 and the national average was 20.9.

Students - generally junior and senior high school students - can score as high as a 36 on the test, which many colleges and universities across the nation use to determine admission along with or in place of the SAT. The ACT tests students in English, math, reading and science.

This year in Newton County, each high school's subject area averages, as well as their composite averages, were below or tied with the state averages and below the national averages.

Eastside High School scored the highest composite average in NCSS with 20.4, or .2 points below the state composite. Additionally, Eastside was the only school in NCSS to tie a state subject area average with 20.1 on the English portion of the test.

"We are proud of our students' performance on the ACT, especially considering we had a significant increase in the number of test-takers from that of 2008," said Dennis Roddenberry, principal of Eastside, in a press release. "We are challenging our students to 'raise the bar' in 2010 and demonstrate improvement on all formal assessments taken by Eastside High School students."

At Alcovy High School, the composite was 18.9, which is .2 points higher than its 2008 composite.

"The administrators, teachers and students of Alcovy High School will work steadfastly to ensure that the instructional program improves during the 2009-2010 school year so that students will continue to experience gains on the ACT assessment," said Dr. LaQuanda Brown, principal of Alcovy, in a press release. "Teachers will continue to participate in professional learning opportunities that help to provide rigorous instruction and relevant assessments throughout the school year so that student performance in content-related assessments should improve significantly."

Newton High School's composite score, 18.3, dipped .2 points from 2008 and .6 points from 2007.

"Even though there were slight decreases, Newton High continues to be focused on raising the level of student academic performance on all standardized assessments," said Dr. Roderick Sams, principal of Newton, in a press release. "We believe that our ACT results will improve as we continue to provide more rigorous instruction in a college preparatory environment."

Although system scores did not outperform the state and nation this year, NCSS did see improvements in some areas compared to last year's results.

Overall, the system's composite average increased .1 point from 2008, still down from 19.3 in 2007. In addition to Alcovy High School's .2 point increase in its composite score, overall NCSS saw gains in the areas of reading and science; some schools also saw gains in individual subject areas.

"We are proud of the progress that these students have made this year," said Dr. Linda Hayden, associate superintendent for curriculum at NCSS. "We thank our teachers for their commitment to educational excellence so that students can grow and perform well academically. We will continue to look for more ways to improve each year."

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