COVINGTON -- Newton County high school students on average still are performing below state and national averages on the ACT, results from last year's college entrance exam show.
The average score of the 596 Newton County students who took the ACT, or the American College Test, for the 2011-12 school year was 18.8. In Georgia, the average score was 20.7, and nationally it was 21.1, according to results recently released by NCSS.
The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement test designed to measure college readiness and preparation. The ACT includes four separate exams in English, reading, mathematics and science. There is also an optional writing portion.
The exam is scored on a scale from 0 to 36.
Across the state, 52 percent, or 47,169, of Georgia' graduating seniors took the ACT last year year. This is up from nearly 43,000 the previous school year, according to the Georgia Department of Education.
Locally, five more students took the test, and nationally, nearly 43,000 students took the test last year, compared to the previous year.
At Alcovy High School, 153 students took the test and scored a composite of 18.1. In English, test takers scored a 17.5, in math a 17.9, an 18.7 in reading and a 17.8 in science.
At Eastside High School, 185 students took the test, scoring a composite of 20.8, which is the only local composite score above the state average. In English, Eastside testers scored a 20.5, which equals the national average; a 19.9 in math; a 21.6 in reading, which is above both the state and national average; and 20.7 in science, which also is above the state average.
At Newton High School, 256 students took the test and scored a composite of 17.8. In English, students scored a 17.3, in math a 17.5, an 18.2 in reading and a 17.8 in science.
NCSS reported that overall its students on this test scored higher in English, reading and science compared to the previous year's test takers; math scores remained the same.
"Naturally, we're pleased to see the increases evident in the various subtests of the ACT and in the overall composite score," said NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews in a press release. "But, as I noted last year, we have a ways to go if we are to improve the college readiness of our test takers as measured by these assessments. The move to the Common Core State Standards in NCSS, a more rigorous curriculum, should help in this regard over the long term."
NCSS officials reported that results show that only 10 percent of its students who took the ACT last year met the standards in all four testing categories and are considered ready for college-level coursework, compared to 22 percent nationwide. That is up from 8 percent from the 2011 test.
Broken down by high school, results indicate that 8 percent of Alcovy High students are ready, 18 percent of Eastside students are ready and 5 percent of Newton High students are ready.
"As we implement the Career Pathways initiative, I believe students will begin seeing more relevance in courses they are taking, which will translate into an even higher percentage of our students scoring at college and career ready levels," said State School Superintendent John Barge in a press release.