Louisiana students boost ACT, improvements seen in region

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE — High school students across the state have maintained an average score of 19.8 for the ACT assessment test, staying steady with the previous year, but still fell below the national average.

According to the state department of education, Louisiana’s average composite score, which includes public and non-public schools, is under the national average of 20.9, which remained the same from the last year.

None of the school districts of the River Parishes were able to attain the national average.

St. Charles Parish retained a score of 20.2, while St. James Parish fell from a score of 18.6 last year to 18.4.

Both high schools in St. John Parish, which had a composite score of 17.8, showed improvement.

According to Ann LaBorde, executive director of personnel and legal services for the district, West St. John High students scored an average of 16.1, up from 15.9 last year. At East St. John High, 18.2 was this year’s average, an improvement from 17.3 in 2004.

Debra Schum, principal at East St. John High, said she was “very excited” when she saw the scores.

“I believe this is the biggest increase we’ve seen in the last 10 years,” Schum said, “It says the academics in our schools are catching up to where we need to be.”

Schum said the biggest jump was in reading, with a point and a half gain. She credited the gain on two programs implemented at East St. John: strategic reading and “Reading Wednesdays.”

“It’s not just those factors, but it is something that made a difference,” Schum said.

A score of 20 is the minimum a Louisiana student can receive to be accepted into the state’s TOPS program, where they may get a scholarship. Though, nationally, approximately 40 percent of high school students take the ACT, that number is at 85 percent in Louisiana.

Louisiana also showed a 1 percent increase in black students taking the test, and the state’s Hispanic students made the greatest gains by receiving a composite score of 20.

Of the states public school districts, 26 made an improvement over the previous year, while 35 experienced decreases, and seven remained the same.

LaSalle and St. Tammany parishes scored the highest. St Helena and East Feliciana parishes scored the lowest.

ACT is administered in all 50 states. The highest score a student can receive is a 36, which is scored by about one in every 6,000 students.