Students in the Wm. S. Hart Union High School District are well prepared for college, according to results of the American College Testing (ACT) report released this week through the California Department of Education. Local students scored well above their peers across the state in overall readiness for college-level coursework and closely paralleled state averages when comparing specific math and science course sequences.
The number of local students taking the ACT college readiness test has increased rapidly over the last five years, growing from 236 students across the district in 2005 to 592 for the 2009 graduation year, an increase of 250 percent over a five-year period. The number of students taking the test in the state increased from 51,600 in 2005 to 81,494 last spring.
Hart District students maintained their lead above the statewide average in all subject areas - English, mathematics, reading and science. The district's composite, an average of all test scores, grew slightly to 23.9, as opposed to a state composite score of 22.2.
When testing for college-level coursework, 86 percent of Hart students were ready for college English composition, compared to 73 percent of students statewide. Seventy percent of Hart District students tested ready for college algebra, compared to 55 percent across the state. In college social science, 72 percent of local students tested college-ready compared to 59 percent across the state. Forty-three percent of local students tested ready for college biology, compared to 33 percent across the state.
Forty percent of Hart students tested demonstrated that they were ready to earn at least a "C" or higher in first-year college courses in all four subject areas tested on the ACT - English, math, reading and science. Statewide it was 29 percent and nationally it was 23 percent. When testing for specific math and science classes, Hart District students were equal to or slightly above state averages.
Although State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell stressed the test results and their impact on the achievement gap between white and Asian students and students of color, the District has received only composite scores that do not indicate ethnicity of students tested or their results by ethnicity.
"The ACT is a very valid predictor of college readiness," explained Dave LeBarron, Hart District director of curriculum and assessment. "Of the four areas tested, fewer students demonstrated that they were ready for a first-year college course in science. That tells us that more students should pursue more courses of rigorous science."
The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement exam designed to measure the academic skills that are taught in schools and deemed important for success in first-year college courses. ACT scores are accepted by all four-year colleges and universities across the country according to the ACT Web site at www.act.org .
ACT scores are also used to make appropriate course placement decisions by the majority of four-year schools in the U.S. The ACT is administered in all 50 states and is taken by a majority of high school graduates in 27 states. The test was created by the American College Testing Program 50 years ago.