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More students take ACT, score rise
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A record high number of Newton County School System students took the ACT college entrance exam in 2012 and in the process, increased scores in three content areas (English, reading and science) and the composite score. The district also matched scores from the previous year on the math portion of the test. Although NCSS students increased or maintained in each category, the district's overall scores are still below state and national averages.

"Naturally, we're pleased to see the increases evident in the various subtests of the ACT and in the overall composite score," said NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews. "But, as I noted last year, we have a ways to go if we are to improve the college readiness of our test takers as measured by these assessments. The move to the Common Core State Standards in NCSS, a more rigorous curriculum, should help in this regard over the long term."

Unlike the SAT, a reasoning test that measures critical thinking skills and assesses how well a student analyzes and solves problems, the ACT is a series of curriculum-based, multiple choice tests that cover content knowledge in four basic skill areas: English (college English composition), math (college algebra), reading (college social science), and science (college biology). Students also receive a composite score on the exam, which is scored on a scale from 0 to 36. The ACT also has an optional writing test.

School level data
According to the official ACT report, Alcovy High School saw a decrease in the number of students taking the test - going from 196 in 2011 to 153 in 2012. The school posted gains in English and reading and matched its 2011 composite score of 18.1. Scores for math and science slightly decreased in 2012. Despite the gains in 2012, all scores were below the state and national averages.

Even with 31 additional students taking the test, Eastside High School students posted gains across the board on the 2012 ACT and beat state and national scores in several categories in the process. Eastside High School's 20.7 in Science and 20.8 on the composite bested state average scores. In addition, the school's 20.5 English score beat the state and matched the national average. Eastside students topped both their state and national peers on the reading portion of the ACT in 2012.

Newton High School students posted gains in three of the four testing categories as well as the composite score in 2012. The school's math score dipped slightly. More Newton High School students took the ACT in 2012 than in previous years.

Although Newton High is making gains, the school's 2012 ACT scores were below state and national averages.