Strong ACT scores for 2017

Posted on: Sep 22, 2017

Strong ACT scores for 2017

ACT test results released earlier this month reflected well on Delano Public Schools, as the district’s overall composite score came in a full two points ahead of the state average, and was even farther ahead of the average national score.

Delano students who graduated in 2017 posted an average composite score of 23.5, widening the district’s customary lead on the state average, which was 21.5 for the year. That gap is significant, because Minnesota ranked No. 1 for test scores among the 17 states that give the ACT to all students, and students nationwide posted an average composite score of 21.

Delano High School Principal Steve Heil said it was normal for Delano’s score to exceed the stage average, but the two-point margin in 2017 was the largest lead for Delano in at least the past five years.

“Scores like this just represent the full picture: the commitment to academics that our families have, that the students have, that the staff has, and the administration has,” Heil said. “Preschool to 12th grade, all the way through, it just shows a full community commitment to academics. Almost all of the senior class took the ACT, so it was a good representation of the entire class.”

The ACT encompasses four subjects: English, mathematics, reading and science. Delano students scored highest in math, with an average score of 24.4 compared to 21.5 for the state.

“The way we run our math curriculum in high school and our block schedule allows students to take the equivalent of eight years of math, whereas in most high schools they can only get up to four,” said Heil. “Within the curriculum we teach a little more in depth. We teach a couple of concepts that other high schools have taken out, so we really are able to round out our students well. That directly translates over into the science scores too.”

In science, Delano students scored a 23.9 average, well above the state’s 21.6 mark. The district’s reading and English scores of 23.2 and 22, respectively, also exceeded the state’s scores of 21.8 and 20.4.

Heil pointed to Project Lead The Way classes, which incorporate all four subjects in engaging projects, as a contributing factor to the well-balanced scores.

“Classes like that are helping our students see the bigger picture. They are drawing more connections all over,” said Heil. “That’s why I think you see all the scores being high, the composite being high. You can’t break it down and say there is one particularly weak area for the school. There just isn’t. But that doesn’t mean we’re not working at getting better.”

College readiness

The ACT also measures college readiness, defining it as the number of students who score high enough in a given subject to indicate a 50-percent likelihood of earning at least a B in a corresponding college course, or a 75-percent chance of earning a C.

Overall, 43 percent of Delano students met the benchmark in all four ACT test areas, compared to 31 percent statewide and 27 percent nationally.

In individual categories, 80 percent of Delano students met the mark in English composition compared to 63 percent statewide, 71 percent of Delano students qualified in algebra compared to 48 percent statewide, 61 percent of local students qualified in social science compared to 50 percent statewide, and 59 percent of Delano students met the biology mark compared to 42 percent statewide.

One reason for Delano’s success in the area of college readiness, Heil said, is that the high school has added a significant number of advanced placement classes in response to student and family requests.

“We have a lot more students that want the college-level coursework, so we’ve upped our game,” said Heil.

He added, however, that the foundation for a student’s success is set well before they ever set foot in a high school classroom.

“This is a total endeavor from pre-K to 12,” Heil said. “As a district we’ve been able to align and have high standards that didn’t just start in ninth grade or seventh grade. Those standards started way back in preschool and kindergarten. So what you’re seeing in these scores is the result of an entire district really working with each individual kid through the years. It shows that we are, overall, preparing our kids well for the next step, be that college, career or the services.”