As a basis for comparison to local schools' performance, the 68,480 Missouri students who took the ACT test last year had an average overall composite score of 20.4 out of a possible 36 — down from the highest average composite score in the past five years of 21.8 in the 2013-14 school year.
The ACT evaluates students in English, math, reading and science, and assigns a score for each of those subcategories on the test. Across the state last year, students averaged scores of 19.8 in English, 19.9 in math, 20.8 in reading and 20.5 in science.
Nationally, the 2.03 million students who took the ACT last year averaged 20.3 in English, 20.7 in math, 21.4 in reading and 21.0 in science, for an average composite score of 21.0. The national average composite score has pretty much held steady for the past five years, with a low the year before last of 20.8.
The number of students who take the test each year has grown over the past five years, from a low of 48,865 on the state level in 2014 and about 1.8 million nationally in 2013.
Jefferson City Public Schools: The average composite score of the 542 students who took the ACT last year was 19.4; the highest composite score from the past five years was 21.7 in 2013-14. JCPS students' scores last year were 18.3 in English, 19.1 in math, 19.7 in reading and 19.7 in science — all slight decreases compared to last year, and the lowest scores of the past five years. Last year saw the second highest number of JCPS students to take the test, compared to 545 the year before and 367 in 2012-13.
Blair Oaks R-2: The average composite score of the 121 students who took the ACT was 22.2; the highest composite score from the past five years was 23.1 in 2014-15. Blair Oaks' students scores were 21.7 in English, 22 in math, 22.1 in reading and 22.5 in science. All of these numbers are mostly steady with the previous year and each of the past five years, though 2014-15 saw English, math and reading average scores of 23 or higher. Last year saw the highest number of Blair Oaks students to have taken the ACT in the past five years.
Calvary Lutheran High School: The average composite score of the 36 students who took the ACT last year was 23.9, tied with 2013-14 as the year with the highest average score. Students' scores in English were 24.6, 23.9 in math, 23.8 in reading and 23.2 in science — the highest scores in English and science of the last five years. More Calvary Lutheran students than ever in the last five years took the ACT, compared to only six students in 2012-13.
Helias High School: Not as much information from past years was provided compared to the two local public districts and Calvary Lutheran, but Helias students' average composite score last year was 23.9. Helias students' average English score was 24.8 and 24.2 in reading. "These scores tied with the highest scores Helias graduates have ever earned in both areas," according to a news release from the school. Math and science scores were not immediately available.
Two hundred forty-two students from the three Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Jefferson City took the ACT last year, according to a news release from the diocese; the other two schools are Fr. Tolton Regional Catholic High School in Columbia and Sacred Heart High School in Sedalia.
The news release noted the average composite score between the three schools last year was 23.4. Across all three schools, the average English score was 24.3, 22.1 in math, 23.8 in reading and 22.8 in science.
What does this all mean?
Along with the SAT, the ACT is a standardized test used to evaluate students' readiness for college. The ACT has established benchmark scores to determine if a student has a 50 percent chance of obtaining a B or higher or a 75 percent chance of receiving a C or higher in corresponding credit-bearing college courses.
Colleges and universities can also use ACT scores as a basis to make scholarship and advising decisions upon and in addition to admission.
Just 17 percent of all JCPS high school students who took the ACT last year met all four benchmarks in English, math, reading and science, compared to 23 percent across the state. Within the district, this is the lowest number in the past five years — with a five-year high of 31 percent in 2013-14 — and lower than last year's 19 percent.
Thirty-five percent of Blair Oaks students met all four benchmarks, although there wasn't information immediately available to compare that to previous years.
Forty-two percent of Calvary Lutheran students met all four score benchmarks, compared to 39 percent last year and a high of 53 percent in 2013-14.
No Helias-specific benchmark information was immediately available, but the diocesan news release noted in all four subject areas, "students of the diocesan high schools averaged scores above the benchmark set by ACT."
"Diocesan high school administrators and faculty use these results to evaluate course offerings and continuously work to improve instruction and student learning," according to the release.