• Composite average score was highest ever this year
BROOKINGS – Students who graduated from Brookings High School this past May recorded the highest average composite ACT score in the school’s history, BHS was recently told: 24.4.
The highest possible ACT score is 36. Statewide, South Dakota’s average composite score was 21.8 this year. The nationwide composite average was 21.1.
The ACT is an optional test students often take in order to get admitted to college. It includes four separate tests covering English, math, reading and science, with an optional writing portion.
No matter what year they take the test, students’ scores are grouped with those of the other students in their graduating class, and the average is released after they graduate.
Of the 165 students who graduated from BHS in 2012, 134 took the ACT. Of the BHS graduating class of 2011, 154 took the ACT; 158 did so in 2010, 155 in 2009 and 135 in 2008.
BHS principal Paul von Fischer said on average, 80-82 percent of each graduating class takes the test.
A composite ACT score of 24 or above is important in South Dakota, von Fischer noted, because it is one initial requirement for the S.D. Opportunity Scholarship and South Dakota State University’s Jackrabbit Guarantee scholarship.
Von Fischer said the Class of 2012 can point to a variety of reasons for its ACT success.
“I think different groups perform differently,” he said. “Sometimes I think it has quite a bit to do with the culture of different classes that come through; the leadership, the ability, the work ethic, all those things come into play.”
He noted that the Brookings School District has been working hard to align its curriculum K-12, to create a flow of instruction and eliminate gaps in what is being taught.
BHS does encourage all of its students to take the ACT and offers an optional seminar to help them prepare for the exam. Last year, the school was recognized by the ACT organization for its consistently high average test scores and asked to participate in a survey of similar schools.
The survey’s goal was to pinpoint correlations between qualities of these schools and their consistently high ACT scores. Von Fischer said the strongest correlation, which 94 percent of the 366 educators surveyed said was true of their school, is strong relationships between students and teachers. That is true of BHS, he said.
“I would love to think that we have even a small role in the success our students had,” von Fischer said. “The great majority of our students are lifers (in the Brookings School District). So, I think that it’s way beyond what happens at the high school.”
Student families and the Brookings community as a whole are also key to developing bright students, von Fischer added.
"We've got good kids, we've got a supportive community. Education is important, it has been, it continues to be. And then, strong parent support. We've got a lot of parents who we're helping them or they're helping us to educate their kids.”
The 2012 ACT scores are not yet published. Find information about previous year’s scores at doe.sd.gov/oats/-ACT.aspx.
Contact Charis Prunty at email@example.com.