ACT scores are on the rise again

September 12, 2017

ACT scores are on the rise at Stillwater Area High School (SAHS), and our students continue to outperform their peers across the state and nation. This past spring marked just the second time that every junior at SAHS and across the state of Minnesota took the ACT, a national assessment that gauges how well prepared students are for college. While last year’s increased participation numbers resulted in a slight decline in overall scores, the average composite score rose back up this year.

The average composite score in 2017 for Stillwater students was 23.3, compared to an average composite score of 21.5 in Minnesota and 21 in the nation. Minnesota is one of only 17 states requiring the ACT be given to all students, and this year’s results place Minnesota students first among the 17.

"The use of the ACT exam as our measure for school improvement indicates our responsiveness to students as the ACT has meaning for students beyond high school,” said Principal Rob Bach. “Students care about their data and use it to prepare for their next steps. At SAHS, we've concentrated our efforts on making sure that students reach College Readiness Benchmarks in each of the four tested areas, and we have observed growth in our students over their time in high school in this regard."

While the ACT is best known as a college-admission requirement, teachers have found that the ACT provides them with more data about student readiness than other tests, like the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA). ACT has established a set of college-readiness benchmarks based on the test results, which are designed to predict how well students might perform in the typical first-year college courses of English composition, college algebra, social science and biology. This information is very helpful as the high school works to develop school goals and improvement plans to meet the needs of its students.

“The information students, teachers, and families receive from the ACT exam is invaluable for current and future planning," said Melinda Fierro, Learning and Innovation Coordinator for Assessment. “The data not only helps students and their families shape future course and post-secondary educational choices, but it also helps schools evaluate course offerings and content, in order to ensure they are providing the best opportunities for their students to be prepared for post-secondary education.”