County students' ACT scores rise

Thursday, October 12, 2017
Don Embry

Composite ACT scores in Bedford County schools increased half a percentage point last academic year, officials said.

Bedford County's composite score was 19.1, the Tennessee Department of Education reported. Bedford County's ACT composite score was an 18.6 in 2016, state DOE spokesman Chandler Hopper said.

Local Superintendent Don Embry said he is pleased but there is more work to do.

'Making progress'

"We're a point below the state average, but we're making progress," Embry said. "Our kids and teachers have been working hard."

Composite ACT scores in Tennessee averaged 20.1 last school year, an increase from the previous year's composite of 19.9, the state announced.

A total of 499 tests were taken in Bedford County this year, a 96 percent participation rate, the state reported.

Statewide, more than 3,500 additional students took the exam this year. About 1,800 more public school students qualified for the HOPE scholarship by earning composite scores of 21 or higher.

Increases

Scores improved in every section of the ACT:

19.6 in English, up 0.1 points,

20.5 in reading up 0.1 points,

19.4 in math, up 0.2 points; and

20.3 in science, up 0.2 points.

Bedford County's average English score was 18.4, while its average math score was 18.7. The county's average reading score was 18.9 and its average science score was 19.7.

Trying again

Bedford County juniors took the ACT last week, and several seniors retook the test, Embry said. Often a student will score higher when retaking the test. Local high schools offer prep classes and other training for the exam.

In Bedford County, 35.3 percent of students taking the ACT scored a 21 or higher, the state reported.

J.C. Bowman, executive director of the Professional Educators of Tennessee, hailed the improved scores even though the test is a snapshot of achievement.

"It's good news for the state," said the director of the educators' association. "We're moving forward. But like any other test, it's one measure in time."

Second chances

Tennessee has focused on increasing ACT results over the past several years, which is often used in college admissions and is being relied upon for school accountability.

The class of 2017 was the first one to have access to a free opportunity to retake the ACT, the state education department reports. Nearly 26,000 students in the class of 2017 participated in the department's first ACT Senior Retake Day last fall. Of those, nearly 40 percent increased their overall score. Tennessee is the first and only state to offer this opportunity on a statewide scale.