Alachua County Public School juniors continue to outperform their peers in the state on the ACT college entrance exam in 2014 and almost achieve the national average score by students who are graduating.
The average overall score for Alachua County juniors is 20.8, which is 1.2 points higher than the average overall score earned by Florida students, according to the newly released results by The College Board.
The score for Alachua County juniors is also an increase compared with last year’s local overall score of 19.9. They earned higher scores in all of the four subjects over the last year.
They also beat Florida students as a whole in all of the subjects.
The average overall score for Florida students as a whole, however, is 1.4 less than the national average, making Florida one of the eight states with a students’ average composite score less than 20.0.
According to Jackie Johnson, public information officer for Alachua County Public Schools, the national scores are often a measurement of performance by those who are graduating high school and are well prepared for college.
The Alachua County scores, however, reflect both the performance of 11th graders who are well prepared for college and those who are not.
Dr. Owen Roberts, Superintendent for Alachua County Public Schools, thought it was a great achievement this time because even though the lower performer students were included in the pool, the overall performance by Alachua County students did not go down.
Alachua County Public Schools is one of a handful of districts that offered the test to all 11th graders free of charge.
“It is very important and noteworthy, because last year (2013-2014) we gave the test to all 11th graders,” Roberts said.
Roberts attributed the improvement to higher expectations for students and the hard work of both teachers and students.
According to David Shelnutt, principal of Gainesville High School, the ACT average composite score for their students is 21.6, 0.8 higher than the Alachua County average and 0.6 higher than the national average.
Shelnutt said their active after-school tutoring program helps a lot too. The program is offered three days a week from 3-4 p.m., where teachers help students with their homework and other studying materials.
“We are promoting and pushing obviously college-ready curriculum in every area,” Shelnutt said, “Our teachers try very hard to push critical thinking and higher order thinking questions, and I think the more students have experience in those fields, the more comfortable they are.”