With more rigourous academic standards now mandated by the state, Whitnall Superintendent Lowell Holtz was certainly pleased with today’s news that his district appears headed on the right path.
Whitnall’s composite ACT test score for the 2011-12 school year of 23.4 surpassed last year’s mark of 23.2 as the district’s highest mark in the 17 years of data stored on the Department of Public Instruction website, according to statewide test results released by the DPI on Wednesday.
Whitnall’s score was also higher than the state average of 22.1.
“What it reflects positively on is the teachers in the district, and (the score) keeps going up because our administrators are working on giving every opportunity to allow teachers to help the students academically,” Holtz said. “It’s been a good team effort.”
Whitnall set the composite-score bar higher than ever with improvements across the board in all four of the test’s subject categories.
The district’s 22.8 average score in English set the new high over the last 17 years, and the average science score of 23.9 tied the high-water mark set in 2010-11.The district’s math score of 23.0 was second only to the 23.4 score in 1997-98, and Whitnall’s average reading score was 23.3, its third-highest total in the last 17 years.
“We want the ACT scores to keep going up, obviously,” Holtz said. “We want them scoring closer to 30 than in the 20s and that can happen over time. … With the state raising expectations, it will be a good time for kids. Once the shock factor is over as far as the new reporting goes, we’ll get them to the new bar.”
Of Whitnall’s 220 students, 155, or 70.5 percent took the test, slightly below the state average of 71 percent but higher than last year’s total of 69.5. The 2006-07 class set the bar for percent tested with 77.2.
Greenfield's scores dip
Across town, Greenfield’s 2011-12 composite score of 20.9 matched the district’s 2009-10 total as the second-lowest score in the last 17 years, according to DPI data.
The district’s lowest composite score during that time frame was 20.7 in 2008-09; its highest was 22.1 in 1998-99. The most recent score marked a slight dip from the previous year when Greenfield scored a composite 21.1.
Greenfield students saw marginal dips in all four categories. They scored a 20.9 in reading (it was 21.0 in 2010-11), 20.2 in English (20.3 in 2010-11), 20.7 in math (20.8 in 2010-11) and 21.3 in science (21.7 in 2010-11).
The English score marked the second straight year Greenfield scored above 20 after four consecutive sub-20 marks.
The percentage of Greenfield students tested was the highest it’s been since at least 1995-96 as 185 of 253 students, or 73.1 percent were tested, nearly 10 percentage points higher than any other year during that period and above the state average of 71 percent, which ranked second in the nation (tied with Iowa).
The district did not immediately respond to Patch's email request for comments.
Across the state
Wisconsin’s 2012 composite score on the ACT was 22.1, a full point ahead of the nationwide composite score of 21.1. Minnesota’s composite score was 22.8.
The state had 47,588 graduates who took the ACT at some time during their high school career. The class of 2012 was the state’s most diverse with 20.3 percent of students identifying themselves as being from a racial or ethnic minority group. Participation in ACT testing more than doubled among Hispanic students since 2008 and was up 47 percent among Black / African American students, due in part to districtwide testing in Milwaukee Public Schools that began in 2010.
“Results on the ACT show strong statewide achievement and that vast majority of students are taking a college preparatory curriculum,” State Superintendent Tony Evers said in a statement. “Businesses have told us and research bears out that college ready and career ready both require rigorous high school study. These ACT results also show us that we have work to do to make sure every graduate has the college and career readiness skills they will need for success in the workforce or further education.”