New ACT results: Back to planet EarthIt was bound to happen. Last year’s ACTs -- college exam entrance scores -- for the River Falls High School class of 2010 reached astronomical highs.
By: Phil Pfuehler, River Falls Journal
It was bound to happen. Last year’s ACTs -- college exam entrance scores -- for the River Falls High School class of 2010 reached astronomical highs.
This year came a gravitational rebound. ACTs for the class of 2011 were much lower, especially by River Falls standards and compared to other school districts.
“After last year’s scores, anything would be tough to beat,” said high school Principal Elaine Baumann. “But the number of students taking the test has continued to increase, and that is great.
“When looking back at other standard measures of achievement for this cohort of students, we have seen growth all along. I would also like to acknowledge that the 207 students tested this year amounted to 90% of the class…This large percentage of our students are setting themselves up for the option of further education.”
The River Falls class of 2011 posted a 22.7 overall score on the ACT. That’s lower than last year’s record 23.9 and the lowest since a 22.1 posting six years ago.
Wisconsin’s overall average for public school students on the ACT this year was 22.0.
ACTs consist of four multiple-choice tests: English, math, reading and science. There is also an optional writing component.
River Falls’ overall ACT score of 22.7 was quite a bit lower than top-ranked New Richmond’s, and also lower than other area high schools, including Hudson, Spring Valley, Rice Lake, Baldwin-Woodville and Menomonie.
Somerset, among area schools, finished last in all the core ACT subjects. St. Croix Central was second to last. Both schools’ ACTs were below the state average
Last year River Falls’ ACTs were the highest among area schools.
This year, River Falls graduating students posted declines from last year in all four core subjects.
“The declines were indeed across the board, the largest in English and reading, two areas that were exceptionally high last year,” Baumann said. “When looking back two years and more, the scores this year were not far out of line.
“Again, looking at the five-year average, last year was a big increase; a tough act to follow. This year is more typical.”
Breaking down the scores by gender, River Falls girls (22.7) and boys (22.8) performed almost the same. For a number of years boys’ ACT scores have been noticeably higher.
There were, however, differences when the ACTs were broken down by subject: Girls did much better than boys in reading, 23.6 to 22.3, and in English, 23.2 to 21.9; while boys easily bested girls in math, 23.3 to 21.6, and in science, 23.2 to 22.1.
The following show how River Falls students ranked on the ACT compared to other area and regional high school students:
Composite: New Richmond, 23.8; Hudson, 23.7; Spring Valley, 23.6; Rice Lake, 23.5; Menomonie and Baldwin-Woodville, 22.8; RIVER FALLS and Eau Claire, 22.7; Prescott, 22.4; Ellsworth, 22.2; Chippewa Falls and State, 22.0; St. Croix Central, 21.5; and Somerset, 21.0.
Reading: Hudson and New Richmond, 24.0; Rice Lake, 23.2; RIVER FALLS, Menomonie and Baldwin-Woodville, 23.0; Eau Claire, 22.7; Ellsworth, 22.6; Spring Valley, 22.6; Prescott and Chippewa Falls, 22.3; State, 22.1; St. Croix Central, 21.7; and Somerset, 21.5.
English: New Richmond, 23.5; Baldwin-Woodville and Rice Lake, 22.9; Hudson, 22.7; RIVER FALLS, 22.6; Spring Valley, 22.5; Eau Claire, 22.4; Menomonie, 22.2; St. Croix Central, 22.0; Prescott, 21.9; State, 21.4; Chippewa Falls, 21.2; Ellsworth, 21.1; Somerset, 20.5.
Math: Spring Valley, 24.7; Rice Lake, 24.3; Hudson, 24.1; New Richmond, 23.8; Eau Claire, 22.7; Ellsworth, 22.5; RIVER FALLS, 22.4; Menomonie, 22.3; Prescott, 22.2; Chippewa Falls, 22.1; Baldwin-Woodville and State, 22.0; St. Croix Central, 20.6; and Somerset, 20.4.
Science: Spring Valley, 24.3; New Richmond, 23.7; Hudson, 23.6; Rice Lake, 23.3; Menomonie, 22.9; Eau Claire, 22.8; Baldwin-Woodville, 22.7; RIVER FALLS and Prescott, 22.6; Ellsworth, 22.4; State, 22.2; Chippewa Falls, 22.0; St. Croix Central, 21.3; and Somerset, 21.1.
Baumann said most students tend to take the ACT more than once, adding, “Generally, there are some gains in scores as students complete more course work in tested subjects.”
Baumann gave this assessment of how the ACT influences the curriculum and classroom instruction at River Falls High School.
“While we do not ‘teach to the test’ as it were, I think we have a pretty good understanding of which classes students should take to optimize their outcomes,” she said. “Whether students take advantage of the advice of teachers and counselors is up to them.
“If anything, we will continue to strongly encourage students to stay in some core classes of math, science and English throughout high school.”
In Wisconsin, 71% of high school graduates, both in public and private schools, took the ACT.
According to the state’s Department of Public Instruction, this was the highest ACT participation rate in Wisconsin history.
That state’s overall 22.2 score (this factors in ACT scores of private schools), was up from last year’s 22.1 score and third nationally among ACT-taking states.
The top two were: Minnesota, with an overall score of 22.9, followed by Iowa at 22.3.