Meridian Star

Local News

August 27, 2006

2005-2006 ACT scores ...

Administrators feeling the heat

If you think students and parents are the only ones feeling the heat of college entrance exam results, think again.

With the reputation of their schools on the line, local school administrators felt that same anxiety this past week, as they reviewed scores from the ACT tests taken by their students during the 2005-2006 school year.

The national ACT test is considered a make-or-break exam for admission to select four-year colleges and universities, and viewed as a gauge of college readiness.

After crunching the numbers, reactions from area principals ranged from expressions of disappointment to satisfaction, with doses of spin control along the way. Several shared their recipes for improving scores this year.

Meridian High School ACT-takers placed fractionally ahead of Mississippi students as a whole in all but one subject area: reading.

While the state’s average reading score was 19.1, Meridian High attained an 18.8.

“Kids don’t read enough outside of what they have to read,” lamented Meridian High School principal R.D. Harris.

Harris said the school encourages reading among honors and advanced placement students by assigning them books to read over the summer. He’d now like to expand that program to include all 10th through 12th grade students, and specialized reading classes have been implemented.

Despite the dip in reading score, Harris remained optimistic about his students.

“There are a lot of diamonds in the rough here,” he said. “It’s our job to nurture them.”

In addition to reading, the ACT also contains English, science and math subject-area tests, and grades on a scale of 1 to a perfect 36.

While Lauderdale County School District test-takers scored higher than the composite Mississippi average by more than half a point, superintendent David Little was far from satisfied.

“We aren’t really happy with (the scores),” Little said. “With the caliber of students and teachers and principals we have in Lauderdale County, we should be averaging in the mid-20’s.”

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