Lawrence students slightly improve ACT score, outperform state, national peers

photo by: Associated Press

In this May 6, 2015 file photo, a computer-based practice ACT English test is displayed on a computer monitor in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Last year’s seniors in the Lawrence school district recorded a slight improvement on the district’s composite score on the ACT and once again outperformed their state and national peers.

Last week, Julie Boyle, the district’s communications director, shared a news release that ACT provided detailing the results of 495 Free State High School and Lawrence High School 2018 seniors who took the ACT. The tests in English, math, reading and science are designed to determine the readiness of students to succeed in first-year college coursework. The results show seniors from the two high schools recorded a composite score of 23.7. FSHS seniors had a composite score of 23.9, and LHS students a composite score of 23.5. That compared with a national average of 20.8 and a Kansas average of 21.6.

The class of 2018 composite score was the highest the district has recorded since the 2013-2014 senior class recorded that same score of 23.7. Rick Henry, district director of secondary schools, said it was a slight improvement from the 23.6 composite score of the 2016-2017 senior class.

There’s been little fluctuation in the district’s composite scores the past five years. Henry said that was to be expected in larger districts like Lawrence.

“It is nice to see we had a slight bump and continue to outperform the state and nation,” he said.

The 2018 FSHS average subject area scores were 24.3 in English, 22.7 in math, 24.6 in reading and 23.5 in science. The LHS subject scores were 22.6 in English, 22.9 in math, 24.7 in reading and 23.4 in science.

ACT develops benchmark scores that define college readiness as 18 in English, 22 in math, 22 in reading and 23 in science. According to information ACT shared with the district, 45 percent of FSHS seniors and 41 percent of LHS seniors exceeded the benchmarks in all four subjects areas. Only 29 percent of seniors statewide exceeded the four benchmarks.

Thirty Lawrence Virtual School seniors also took the test, but their scores were not counted as part of the district composite score because LVS is open to students from other districts, Henry said. The LVS composite score was 21.9, and average scores in subject areas were 21.1 in English, 19.3 in math, 24.5 in reading and 22.2 in science.

Henry said the current and future district senior classes will probably have lower composite scores. With the goal of increasing the number of seniors taking the ACT, the Kansas State Department of Education now will let seniors take the test, which normally costs about $50, for free. It is expected that will significantly increase the number of seniors taking the test and will lower overall scores. The district is just now starting to sign up students for the state-provided test in February, he said.

“We need time to find out how many will take the tests,” he said. “There are strict protocols for giving the tests.”

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