BHS continues to outperform state as ACT participation increases, causing decline in average scores

posted Sep 8, 2017, 2:21 PM by Granger Meador   [ updated Sep 8, 2017, 2:43 PM ]
In 2017 Bartlesville High School's students continued to outperform the state in all aspects of the ACT. All of the Class of 2017 at Bartlesville High School took the ACT as part of a new statewide mandate which increased the number of students taking the exam and consequently lowered average scores. 

For 2017-2018, the State Department of Education has adopted the ACT as its primary "college and career readiness assessment" in lieu of a plethora of end-of-instruction exams the state required of high school students from 2008-2009 through 2015-2016. Oklahoma was one of 17 states that tested 100 percent of the students in the Class of 2017. Nationwide only 60 percent of students took the ACT.

In 2018, BHS students will again be required to take the ACT and juniors will also be required to take a state science content exam in biology and physical science in addition to the ACT's science reasoning component.

Whenever the percentage of students taking the ACT increases, one expects the average ACT score to drop since many students who would have previously opted out of the exam have lower academic achievement. The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement test that measures the skills taught in schools and deemed important for success in first-year college courses, and thus is not designed to serve students who are not planning to attend college.

Thus Oklahomans should not be surprised to see the statewide Composite ACT score dropped in 2017 by a point to 19.4. In 2016 it was 20.4, and in the two years before that it had been 20.7.

Bartlesville Public Schools similarly saw a decline in its average composite ACT score due to all students now taking the exam. While in previous years it had ranged from 22.4 to 23.0, in 2017 it dropped to 20.8.

The district's average composite ACT score remained above the state average, as shown in the table below. The district's scores across all ACT subscores in English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science also remained above the state average.

 Year BPSD State BPSD pts. above State
Avg. Composite ACT Score  Students taking ACT Avg. Composite ACT Scoree   Students taking ACT
 2017 20.8   374 19.4   42,405  1.4
 2016 22.4   265 20.4   32,854  2.0
 2015 22.6   284 20.7   30,844  1.9
 2014 23.0   262 20.7   28,682  2.3

Many factors affect student performance on the ACT, including socioeconomic effects and per pupil funding. Oklahoma's public schools have by far suffered the nation's largest decrease in per pupil state funding since 2008.
2017 ACT regional scores and participation
Oklahoma joined Arkansas, Missouri, Colorado, and 13 other states which tested 100% of graduating seniors in 2017. This helped propel its state composite ACT score down by one point from the previous year to 19.4.