Missouri Does Better Than National Average on ACT Test

Related Story

COLUMBIA - About 26 percent of high school graduates nationwide reached the benchmarks on all four subjects of the ACT test this year, according to an annual report. Missouri has a higher percentage, 28.

A benchmark score is a minimum score set on each of the four subjects. If students meet the benchmarks, ACT organizers believe they will have a 50 percent chance of getting a B grade or higher in that subject area in college.

The most updated benchmarks set for the four subjects are: 18 for English, 22 for reading and math, and 23 for science.

This year, 44 Missouri students scored a perfect 36 on the exam. Missouri's ACT composite score remains at 21.6 for the ninth year, higher than the national average of 20.9.

In Columbia, high schools like Rock Bridge and Hickman exceeded the state average.

Rock Bridge science teacher Melissa Wessel said teachers there offer tutoring as a part of their career letter requirements. Students at Rock Bridge receive help on their ACT tests for free.

"We offer a before-school ACT tutoring session. That happens a few times a year, " Wessel said. "I think that's the very minimal cost for the kids. We have a few, for free, tutoring sessions."

This year, 54 percent of high school graduates nationwide took the ACT test. Many report struggling during the preparation process.

"I got the same score after prepping. It's frustrating. I mean I can do better, " said Cody Maly from Columbia Independent School.

Manal Salim, from Rock Bridge, said "My parents always push me to do well in school. They always pushed me to try and do my best, and ACT is part of that."

The number of students taking the ACT test has increased by 244,076 over the past five years, from 1,421,941 in 2008 to 1,666,017 in 2012. With more students taking the standardized exams to go to college, teachers have their concerns about the growth.

ACT tutor Ene-Kaja Chippendale said the test includes some questions that might be confusing. She said test scores are the result of "a combination of skills, and combination of identifying what you look for, and what the ACT is trying to trick you with."

"I'm personally a little nervous because the emphasis of our educational culture is placing on tests right now," she said. "I think we have to be very careful so we don't develop our school system into teaching to the tests."

In the spring of 2015, ACT will use computer-based testing system for the first time ever.

Click here for more photos.