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NCSS sees slight decline in scores as more students take the ACT
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More students in Newton County took the ACT college entrance exam in 2010; however, test scores have declined slightly from 2009.

According to a press release from the Newton County School System, 582 students took the ACT, 83 more than the 499 that took the test in 2009. The number of test-takers continues to rise every year in Newton County. State-wide, there were 39,436 students who took the test and nationally that number skyrocketed to 1,568,835.

In the NCSS, students scored 18.1 in English; 18.7 in math; 19.0 in reading; 19.3 in science and 18.9 in composite. In the state, English scores were 20.1; math 20.7; reading 20.9; science 20.5; composite 20.7. Nationwide, the English scores were 20.5; math 21.0; reading 21.3; science 20.9 and composite 21.0.

The system's overall composite score was down three-tenths of one point from last year's score of 19.2. English and math scores dropped three-tenths, while reading was down one-half of a point. Science scores remained the same.

"There's good news and not-so-good news in our 2010 ACT results," said NCSS Superintendent Dr. Gary Mathews. "The good news is 83 more students took the ACT in 2010 when compared to 2009. The not-so-good news is we experienced declines in English, reading, math and composite scores, while science remained the same as we trail both the state and nation," he said. "From my perspective, I want to have conversations with our high school principals, teachers and others to gain insights into these results. For if we keep doing the same things, we'll keep on getting the same results. The five-year trend for the system (19.6, 19.3, 19.1, 19.2 and 18.9) is not the direction we can continue if we're to serve our students well. As with CRCT and GHSGT, we have work to do."

The ACT is a series of curriculum-based, multiple choice tests that cover the knowledge of actual content in the four basic skill areas of English, math, reading and science, along with a writing test, which is optional. The exam is scored on a scale from 0-36.

In each of the schools, Newton High had the most test takers with 243 students, followed by Alcovy High with 183 and Eastside High with 155. Challenge Charter Academy had one student take the test. Eastside scored the highest in all categories of the test, followed by AHS, NHS then Challenge.

Eastside High School

At EHS, students increased their scores in every category, including the composite. They also scored higher in English than the state and the nation and their science score topped the state and equaled the nation for 2010. Reading scores equaled the state and the four-tenths of a point increase in the composite score pushed Eastside above the state and just two-tenths of a point below the national score.

"I am extremely proud of our Eastside students," said EHS Principal Dennis Roddenberry. "Their performance on the 2010 ACT provided concrete evidence that the students have made gains in several areas over the previous year's results. In comparison to the data from 2009, we were fortunate to see percentage gains in every category. Our results equaled or surpassed the state of Georgia in all but one area. We are happy with the results but are aware that we have much work to do," said Roddenberry. "Our goal is to demonstrate student mastery in all categories assessed."

Alcovy High School

Forty-five more students took the ACT at AHS than in 2009. All scores were below the state average, but students at the school scored two-tenths of a point higher in math in 2010 than last year. Reading and composite scores remained the same and English, and science went down three-tenths of a point and one-tenth of a point, according to the press release.

"Alcovy High School students continue to increase in numbers in regards to students who are taking the ACT as from 2009 to 2010 the number of students increased by 45," said AHS Principal Dr. LaQuanda Brown. "This is great news for the AHS community because it indicates that students are receiving more exposure to a variety of assessments as well as they are researching, investigating and participating in several different forums as a way to be exposed to secondary institutions of learning," she said. "As the principal of Alcovy High School, I will continue to work with administrators, guidance counselors, teachers and students in an effort to ensure that students continue to focus on academic excellence."

Newton High School

The number of students taking the ACT increased at Newton High School by 51 in 2010. Scores, however, dropped in every category, including the composite.
All scores were below the state average and dropped four-tenths of a point (English); seven-tenths (math); nine-tenths (reading), three-tenths (science) and one-half (composite).

"At Newton High we continue to be encouraged by the increases in the number of students taking the ACT," said Principal Dr. Roderick Sams. "More students are taking seriously the post-secondary opportunities available to them, and taking the ACT plays a significant role in that process," he said. "By continuing to promote a more rigorous curriculum, the students at Newton High will not only see their scores on exams such as the ACT improve but will be better prepared for the college or university of their choice."

Challenge Charter Academy

For the first time since it opened, Challenge Charter Academy was included in the district's ACT results due to one student participating in the ACT in 2010

"Of our three high schools, we would be remiss not to recognize the ACT performance of Eastside," said Mathews. "Scores at Eastside, in 2010, were up in English, math, reading, science and the composite," he said. "Eastside's overall or composite score is above the state and barely below the nation. Improvement at Eastside, as well as at Alcovy and Newton, is the name of the game."