Sallisaw Schools and Oklahoma continue to pursue above average ACT scores and test takers.
Joy Hofmeister, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, said this week that Oklahoma increased its ACT participation by 29 percent in one year – the largest gain of ACT-tested graduates in the country.
Scott Farmer, Sallisaw Schools superintendent, said, “Sallisaw had the highest participation rate we ever had in the last two school years, 2016 and 2017.”
Hofmeister announced Oklahoma joins the collection of states identified by ACT as having 100 percent of 2017 graduating seniors taking the national college entrance exam. Of those states, Oklahoma tied for 10th place for the top average composite score. Accompanying the dramatic influx of test-takers, Oklahoma’s average ACT score dropped only one point, from 20.4 to 19.4.
Farmer said Sallisaw Schools’ goal is to be one point above the state average. Last year the school’s ACT average was 19.9, or 0.5 points above the state average. Farmer said the school will continue to work on beating the state average.
Farmer said this is the third year for the ACT Aspire program in Sallisaw Schools. ACT Aspire provides a standards-based system of assessments to monitor progress toward college and career readiness from grade 3 through high school, connecting each grade level to the next. Farmer explained the program provides benchmarks for each student on where they need to improve.
“They are then prepared for the ACT when it’s time to take the test,” Farmer said.
Sallisaw Schools also partner with the Cherokee Nation on ACT preparation, and ACT prep classes are offered in Sallisaw Schools.
Hofmeister said that, in 2017, participation grew to 42,405 students from 32,854 in 2016. This change reflects efforts of a statewide 2016 pilot program in which the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) gave all high school juniors an opportunity to take the exam free of charge. The graduating class of 2017 was the first to participate in the voluntary program.
Farmer said the majority of the 2017 senior class took the ACT.
He pointed out that many Sallisaw High School students are already enrolled in college classes, mainly through Carl Albert State College. By taking some of those classes while still in high school, the students do not have to take remedial classes in the first year of their college careers.
Hofmeister said one of the goals of the state plan is to reduce the need for college remediation in math and English language arts by 50 percent. Currently, 38 percent of all first-year college students in Oklahoma require remedial courses before earning college credit, costing Oklahoma families an estimated $22.2 million each year.
Farmer said the purpose is to prepare each student for the next life step when they graduate from high school.
“We must prepare students for the next step once they graduate from high school. We are confident those efforts will be reflected in higher numbers of college and Career Tech enrollments and in reduced college remediation numbers,” she said.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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