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ACT Overview Presentation Given at Monday’s Board of Education Meeting, 12/16/2019

By Derek Tyson, The Welch News Editor

WELCH, WV – The McDowell County Board of Education received a presentation from Dr. Inga Barker concerning ACT scores for McDowell County students. 

2019 marked the first year that 10th graders began taking the ACT test. To help facilitate students having trouble with traveling out of the county, MCS is now offering ACT tests at the Career & Technical Center.

“We want to provide as many opportunities for them to take the test so they can qualify for college entrance,” said Dr. Barker. 

Part of her presentation entailed test result data, with 134 exams being taken by 104 students between 2018-2020. 

“12 out of 134 (12%) had PROMISE qualifying scores,” said Dr. Barker. “In order to qualify for the PROMISE scholarship, students are required to have a composite score of 22 with at least 20 in each subject.”

So far in this school year, 36 exams were taken by 34 students (as of the October 2019 testing date).

3 out of 34 (8%) had PROMISE qualifying scores, but 4 more students had a composite score of 22, they just require 1-3 points for a qualifying score in Math. 

“If they retake it in December or February, they’ll be able to get those scores up,” said Dr. Barker. 

162 11th grade students took SAT School Day Test last year as well. 

“Out of those, 4 percent were eligible for PROMISE, so we’re trying to build that awareness. The kids have access to these scores online, they know exactly what they’re missing,” said Dr. Barker. “They’re also able to practice online to get a better score. The SAT can be retaken as well.”

This school year’s SAT School Day Test will be held on March 25, according to Dr. Barker. 

“ACT has their own measures that say if the student gets these particular scores, there is a 75% likelihood that they’ll get a C or better on their first year college courses,” said Dr. Barker.

Barker presented multi-year data showing growth and decline across 4 subjects and composite average. 

In English, the State ACT Average was 20.6. In McDowell County Schools, the average was 17.6 in 2016; 16.3 in 2017 and 2018; but climbed back to 17.4 in 2019. 

In Math, the State ACT Average was 19.7. In McDowell County Schools, the average was 17.1 in 2016; 16.9 in 2017; 17 in 2018; but declined in 2019 to 16.8. 

In Reading, the State ACT Average was 21.7. In McDowell County Schools, the average was 19.3 in 2016; 18.5 in 2017; 18.2 in 2018; and climbed to 19 in 2019. 

In Science, the State ACT Average was 20.7. In McDowell County Schools, the average was 18.6 in 2016; 18 in 2017; 17.3 in 2018; but grew in 2019 to 18.4. 

Composite scores combined the 4 testing areas to create a single score with the State Average being 20.8.  In McDowell County Schools, the average was 18.6 in 2016; 17.5 in 2017; 17.3 in 2018; but grew in 2019 to 18. 

“We have improved in English, Reading, Science and our composite score from 2018 to 2019,” said Dr. Barker. “We went down .2 percent in mathematics and this is our ongoing area of concern.” 

Dr. Barker also presented percentages of ACT-Tested Students Ready for College-level coursework.

In College English and Composition, the State Average was 67. In McDowell County Schools, the average was 46 in 2016; 35 in 2018; but grew in 2019 to 49. 

In College Algebra, the State Average was 33. In McDowell County Schools, the average was 11 in 2016; 8 in 2018; and climbed back to 9 in the 2019 year. 

In College Social Science, the State Average was 49. In McDowell County Schools, the average was 27 in 2016; 19 in 2018; but climbed back to 35 in 2019. 

In College Biology, the State Average was 34. In McDowell County Schools, the average was 13 in 2016; 15 in 2018; but declined in 2019 to 10. 

“The decrease in College Biology hurt us in the category of children meeting all four indicators,” said Dr. Barker. 

Students demonstrating proficiency in all 4 categories was 21 for the State Average. In McDowell County Schools, the average was 8 in 2016; 7 in 2018; but declined in 2019 to 4. 

“Our schools get this data and work with seniors. We’ve also done extra work this year with our 10th graders,” said Dr. Barker. “They took the PSAT the precursor to the SAT. It let’s us know if they’re on track to graduate, and being college and career ready.”

Dr. Barker said the Central Office has asked themselves what can they do as educators to increase those skills, because better scores lead to PROMISE qualification and a better chance of entering college. 

Dr. Barker will be reviewing 10th grade test results in the New Year, expecting to have the data together by January for another Board presentation. 

“Looks like we’re on the right track though,” said Mitchem. 

“The kids are taking it more seriously now. Adding the SAT to the mix gives them more options. That test helps because it’s given to everybody,” said Dr. Barker. “They can designate up to 4 colleges to send their scores and this website gives them suggestions about AP potential, what careers they can pursue and gives them a chance to qualify for scholarships from other colleges.”

Mike Vallo questioned Barker about the percentage of students taking the ACT. 

“About 25% of students take the ACT, with a mix of 10th, 11th and 12th grade students,” said Dr. Barker.

“You said we’re offering study sessions and things like that to help them out,” said Mitchem. 

“We have, not only in the high schools, but because our CTC helps tremendously also with study halls and Big Creek People in Action helping with anything virtual based,” said Dr. Barker. 

“So students can start in the 10th grade and retake the test to get a better score,” said Margaret Beavers. 

“Yes. The can also get waivers so there’s no cost at all. Our counselors run out of the waivers and we have to keep on ordering them,” said Barker. “But we encourage the students wanting to get the better path to take the test in the 10th grade.”

Instead of students taking the test once and receiving their final sore, Dr. Barker said they need time to adjust to a timed test. Another benefit is seeing what area they are lacking so they can focus on that area. 

“We use Khan Academy, which has a partnership with College Board that produces SAT,” said Dr. Barker. “The kids that took PSAT now have their scores. Because they created an account, Khan Academy will assign them a personalized practice based on their scores and weaknesses.”

The next McDowell County Board of Education regular meeting will be held on Monday, January 6th, 2020.