Eleventh-graders outpace peers statewide on ACT college entrance exams

BCSD high school students improve ACT scores
Posted on 11/09/2017
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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Beaufort County 11th-graders outpace peers
statewide on ACT college entrance exams

BEAUFORT – District high school students outperformed their peers from across South Carolina on a key statewide exam during the 2016-17 school year, according to data released today by the South Carolina Department of Education.

In the third year of South Carolina’s required statewide administration of ACT college entrance exams to all 11th-graders, Beaufort County students exceeded state averages in all five subject areas measured by the ACT.  Their average composite score was 18.4 on ACT’s 36-point scale compared to the state average of 17.7. 

Comparing scoring with previous years, district 11th-graders improved from 18.2 in 2015 to 18.3 in 2016 to 18.4 in 2017.

“Our 11th-graders have improved their ACT scores each year,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss.  “We’re not where we want to be in terms of student achievement, but it’s encouraging that our high schools are making steady progress.”

Individual subject-area composite scores for district 11th-graders in 2016-17 were:

  • English – 17.2 compared to 16.6 statewide.
  • Mathematics – 18.6 compared to 17.8 statewide.
  • Reading – 18.8 compared to 18 statewide.
  • Science – 18.6 compared to 18.1 statewide.
  • Writing – 6.0 compared to 5.9 statewide.

Percentages of students meeting ACT subject-area scoring benchmarks were:

  • English – 43 percent compared to 38 percent statewide.
  • Mathematics – 26 percent compared to 22 percent statewide.
  • Reading – 33 percent compared to 27 percent statewide.
  • Science – 23 percent compared to 17 percent statewide.
  • Writing – 16 percent compared to 12 percent statewide.
  • STEM – 10 percent compared to 8 percent statewide.

In addition to state-required ACT testing in students’ junior year, individual students can choose to take the ACT additional times as seniors to increase their scores.   Scores for Class of 2017 seniors were reported by the South Carolina Department of Education earlier this year.

State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman suggested today that technical difficulties in ACT’s online testing system last spring may have led to lower scores for South Carolina’s 11th-graders.  She said that 96 percent of the state’s school districts had experienced technical issues ranging from small glitches to significant errors.

In Beaufort County, technical problems on ACT testing day last March were so pervasive that the district halted the administration at all six district high schools.  Eleventh-graders were re-tested using a paper-and-pencil administration in May.

Spearman said, “I remain deeply concerned and hope that we can work with ACT to prevent these issues in the future."