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ACT Gains for Third Consecutive Year in Hawkins County Schools
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Hawkins County Schools received welcome news this week as state-wide ACT scores were released.  For the third consecutive year, ACT scores in Hawkins County have shown marked improvement. Last year, the district saw a significant increase in the composite score which improved five tenths of a point from the previous year to a 19.3.  Testing results for the 2016 school- year show increases in all subject areas (Math, English, Reading, and Science).   The composite score improved eight tenths of a point from the composite of 19.3 in 2015 to 20.1 in 2016. By comparison, the state’s ACT composite score remained the same with the average composite rising slightly from 19.8 in 2015 to 19.9 in 2016 for  public and private schools combined. The state average for public schools remained unchanged in 2016 with a 19.4 average composite.

The ACT test is designed to assess the general educational development of high school students and their ability to complete college-level coursework. The tests represent a curriculum-based measure of the percentage of students meeting the college readiness benchmark scores established in the four core areas (English =18, Mathematics=22, Social Studies=22, and Biology=23). Tennessee is one of 18 states nationwide that require all students to take the ACT.

The percent of students meeting the benchmark score in Hawkins County for math was 27% compared to the state average of 30%. In Reading, 41% of Hawkins County students met the benchmark compared to 38% for the state. In English, 62% of Hawkins County students met the benchmark compared to 58% for the state.  In Science, 31% of Hawkins County Students met the benchmark compared to 30% for the state.  The percent of students meeting all four benchmarks in Hawkins County was 17% (an increase of 3% from 2015) compared to the State average of 20%. 

ACT research has shown that it is the rigor of the coursework (dual enrollment, dual credit, and Advanced Placement courses) rather than simply the number of core courses, that has the greatest impact on ACT performance and college readiness.

Director of Schools Steve Starnes stated, “Hawkins County Schools showed growth  in all tested areas. Additionally, our students surpassed the state average in all areas except for math when looking at public and private schools combined. This is a testament to the growth our students have achieved.  Our system’s average on the ACT composite as well as our subtest scores provides key indicators that our core instruction is improving and that the programs and interventions we have established in the classroom are paying off.  Our teachers are to be commended for increasing the rigor within their classrooms along with our high schools for increasing the opportunity for students to take challenging courses, as well as meeting each student’s needs through Response to Instruction and Intervention.  Certainly, the students in the Class of 2016 deserve recognition as well for posting the highest composite ACT scores in Hawkins County in the last 6 years. We will continue to monitor and assess our core instruction and educational programs across the district as we focus on making sure our graduates are prepared for college and career.”

On October 22, seniors who have already taken the ACT will have the opportunity to retake the test at no cost.  In looking ahead to continued ACT growth, we are encouraging Hawkins County seniors to see their school counselor prior to the September 16 registration deadline for details. Combined data from Tennessee public and private school students show that students who retake the exam increase their scores by at least one point on average when retaking the exam and score at least three points higher than juniors who only take the test once.

Additional highlights of the ACT results from Hawkins County Schools, as reported by ACT, Inc., include the following:

·         Cherokee High School saw improved scores in all four subject areas for the second consecutive year.  Cherokee saw an increase in the composite score of 1.3 points from 19.3 to 20.6. The largest gains made by           Cherokee were in the areas of Science by 1.2 points from  19.2 to 20.4 and Reading by 1.8 points (19.1 to 20.9).

·         Clinch had an ACT composite of 20.4 an increase of 1.4 points from a 19.0 in 2014. They also improved scores in all four subject areas with the largest gain in Science of 2.9 points (19.7 to 22.6).

·         Volunteer High School improved scores in all  four subject areas with English showing a significant increase from 18.6 in 2015 to 19.3 in 2016.  The composite increased by four tenths of a point from 19.3 in 2015 to a 19.7 in 2016.

Steve Starnes
Director of Schools
Hawkins County Schools

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