Archive for Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lawrence students’ ACT scores exceed national average

August 18, 2010, 2:21 p.m. Updated August 18, 2010, 4:17 p.m.


ACT report card

Average scores on ACT tests for 2010 at Free State High School, Lawrence High School, the state of Kansas and nationwide, by subject and as a composite (36 is the highest possible score):

• Free State High School: English, 23.5; math, 23.1; reading, 24.1; science, 23.2. Composite: 23.6.

• Lawrence High School: English, 22.9; math, 22.8; reading, 23.7; science, 22.9. Composite: 23.2.

• Kansas: English, 21.4; math, 21.7; reading, 22.3; science, 21.9. Composite: 22.0.

• United States: English, 20.5; math, 21.0; reading, 21.3; science, 20.9. Composite: 21.0.

— High schoolers in Lawrence scored higher on ACT exams this past year than their counterparts in Kansas and throughout the country.

Students in Lawrence public schools averaged 23.4 on the test, compared with average scores of 22 statewide and 21 nationwide, according to ACT Inc., the Iowa-based not-for-profit organization that conducts the assessment tests. The Lawrence average — reflecting the combination of results from ACT-taking students at Free State and Lawrence high schools — was down slightly from 23.5 a year ago, but higher than in any of the other previous three years.

“Both high schools are providing a quality education,” said Matt Brungardt, in his second year as principal at LHS. “Students taking the test are outperforming their peers throughout the state and the nation. The fact that we’re above both of those just means we have good teaching and learning going on in our schools.”

The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being highest. The exam is designed to measure the readiness of students to handle first-year classwork in college.

Kansas is one of 13 states where more than 75 percent of high school graduates had taken the exam. Among those states, Kansas posted the highest composite average, topping the 21.8 posted in South Dakota, where all high school graduates had taken the test.

Kansas also outpaced other states in the region, including Missouri, 21.6; Nebraska, 22.1; Oklahoma, 20.7; and Colorado, 20.6.

Overall, Kansas tied Montana at No. 19 on the list of highest composite scores, just behind Wisconsin and ahead of North Carolina. All of the higher-performing states had relatively fewer students taking the test; those 18 states averaged only 30 percent of their graduates taking the test, well below the national rate of 47 percent.

A larger sample size, Brungardt said, generally means lower average scores.

“I am pleased to see that Kansas students continue to perform well when viewed against other students across the nation,” said Diane DeBacker, the state’s interim education commissioner, in a statement. “However, I also recognize that our work to ensure all students are ready for postsecondary opportunities — whether that means college or work — is ongoing.”

Statehouse reporter Scott Rothschild contributed to this story.


Graczyk 7 years, 7 months ago

Darn. You beat me to the punch with the Lake Wobegon reference.

KU_cynic 7 years, 7 months ago

Averages smaverages . . . Comparing Lawrence to state and national averages that include small relatively under-resourced communities as well as major cities with relatively larger populations of at-risk families doesn't make any sense.

A meaningful comparison would be Lawrence compared to other similarly-sized college towns. How does Lawrence compare to Iowa City? To Champaign-Urbana? To Columbia, MO? To Eugene, OR? To Fayetteville, AR?

overthemoon 7 years, 7 months ago

actually, it was easy to check some of those and they are very similar or even a bit lower than Lawrence schools. Blue Valley, on the other hand, has averages of 24 or a bit more. Money helps, apparently.

overthemoon 7 years, 7 months ago

23 out of 36? I guess that's ok for an average, but to be prepared for college level work they ought to be in the upper 20's at least.

average 7 years, 7 months ago

Well, yes. Not every student is going to go to college. There's not a nation on planet Earth where close to half of today's 25-year-olds have the equivalent of a Bachelor's. Not Japan, not Korea, not Scandinavia, certainly not Germany (which has among the lowest collegiate rates in the highly-developed world... a lot more technical education focus). Nowhere. The average IQ is still 100. If half of your students graduate college, you've probably removed any meaning left in the term college.

overthemoon 7 years, 7 months ago

I don't think kids that aren't planning on applying to college bother taking the college admission tests.

overthemoon 7 years, 7 months ago

Germany has a system that values vocational or trade education. Students who are on that path receive high level training in their craft or trade. Not a bad idea...not everyone needs to go to college, but the trades have to be held in esteem in order to make it a worthwhile choice.

Maxandwillie 7 years, 7 months ago

Blue valley's avg is 25 from last years ACT.

scarletbhound 7 years, 7 months ago

Matt Brungardt is deluded if he thinks Lawrence's ACT scores reflect a quality education. He should know that according to the ACT only about 24 percent of the kids who took the test nationwide had college-ready skills. Yes, Lawrence was a bit higher than the national average, but if you include Lawrence's drop-outs and those who did not take the ACT you can reasonably conclude that no more than 20 percent of the ninth graders who begin high school in Lawrence this month will graduate in four years with college-ready abilities. It's sad that educators like Brungardt would rather spin what every non-school insider recognizes are terrible results rather than developing and teaching a rigorous college-prep curriculum. The truth, Mr. Brungardt, is that you and your education colleagues are simply not getting the job done and the kids and country will suffer severely because of your failure.

slimer22 7 years, 7 months ago

Maybe you should get involved with school as a volunteer.

No, wait…I have a better idea, YOU should get an education and teach the students you self.

Gary Denning 7 years, 7 months ago

Kansas also outpaced other states in the region, including Missouri, 21.6; Nebraska, 22.1; Oklahoma, 20.7; and Colorado, 20.6.

Kansas: English, 21.4; math, 21.7; reading, 22.3; science, 21.9. Composite: 22.0

How do we "outpace" Nebraska when their average is 22.1 and ours is 22?

sks6cf 7 years, 7 months ago

I just thank the Good Lord every night I wasn't reared in the Texas public school system.

Good job Kansas! We're proud o' ur book learnin'!

PapaB 7 years, 7 months ago

When your parents have degrees, some very advanced degrees, wouldn't that affect the importance students place on education? I bet there's a direct correlation between good ACT scores and level of parents' education.

I wouldn't place all the credit with the school system. We live in a very educated city, where many people have jobs beneath the degree(s) they hold and a high percentage of people have degrees - some very advanced.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 6 months ago Some people forget these scores are not 'linear.' A 28 approaches the 90 percentile nationally. A 20 puts one at about the middle of the range, 50th percentile. Eleven students scored a 36 in Kansas last year. Given that 70+ percent of Kansas' students take this test, a much higher average than most states, it's amazing the scores are as high as they are. "Back in the day" when principals decided who got to take the test (mainly those whom he knew would score high) the rankings were somewhat different. For the most part, ACT and SAT scores do a pretty good job of predicting a student's GPA for a semester or two of college. Beyone that, they mainly benefit the shareholders in the companies who make millions in test fees. Want to get your kid ready for college? Make them take all the toughest courses all four years and don't let them succumb to the 'senior slump' using the theory that they "deserve" an easy senior year. Take all the Regent's College prep classes and actually master their content. That's a good start.

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