More juniors taking ACT lead to lower overall scores

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Columbia- Columbia Public Schools, and the state of Missouri, has seen a drop in ACT scores the past couple of years, but CPS believes there is a good reason behind it.

Starting in 2015 Junior level high school students were able to take the ACT once, free of charge, with the state of Missouri paying for it.

The overall composite score for CPS dropped from 23.2, in 2015, to 21.4, in 2016, but the drop didn’t exactly catch the district off guard.

“Our composite score did drop slightly, but the number of students taking the exam grew significantly, and so that’s something that is a trade-off and of course we hope to be able to continue to improve and to maintain the high scores that we do have here in Columbia Public schools but it was an expected decrease,” Community Relations Director CPS, Michelle Baumstark, said.

Baumstark also thinks the overall drop will be beneficial to those students, who in past years, would not have been able to take the test.

“It’s a motivational factor for them. They might have considered themselves to be college bound prior to that, and so certainly it opens up some opportunities for them to say you know what, this is something I can do. They might have self-selected or self-limited themselves prior to this opportunity being made available and so were really excited about that,” she said.

Juniors have a chance to explore more opportunities but they also gain more experience taking the test once, for free, and before their Senior year.

The number of students taking the ACT in Columbia Public Schools did grow by over 2,000 from 2015 to 2016 giving more students a chance to consider their future schooling options.

“Being able to provide the ACT exam to all of our students, free of charge, definitely creates an opportunity for access that students might not have been able to take advantage of previously. Whether it be a deterrent because of the cost of the exam or because maybe they thought they weren’t college material,” Baumstark said.

Overall, CPS is still above the national average when it comes to ACT scores, and now there are more opportunities for more high school kids.