Fort Smith Public School District educators know that preparing students for college, for work and for life after graduation is key to future success. An important step in the preparation process is in taking the American College Test (ACT). Typically, students take this college entrance exam during high school. In doing so, they position themselves to earn college scholarships, awards and numerous other opportunities.
With these opportunities and the chance to emphasize increased rigor in mind, student fees associated with taking the ACT were provided during 2010-2011. The majority of Northside and Southside High School entering seniors were given the opportunity to participate in the exam. As a result, 98 percent of the graduating class took the ACT. Generally, the District will record ACT participation rate between 68 and 74 percent of a particular class.
Statistically, it comes as no surprise that the District’s average composite score reflected this increased participation with a 20.4 composite score. This is lower than the previous year’s 21.3 composite. With the substantial increase in the number of test takers, the decrease was expected. The state of Arkansas also placed special emphasis on the ACT in 2010. A record 91 percent of Arkansas’ students took the ACT. The state composite also declined somewhat and is recorded as 19.9.
"We are pleased with the increased confidence in more and more of our students as evidenced by the growing number who sit for the ACT,” said Dr. Barry Owen, Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services. “As course rigor has increased in our secondary schools students now understand they are better suited to perform at higher levels. We are encouraged by this trend as we realize more and more of our graduates are adequately preparing for future endeavors."
The ACT is designed to measure student readiness for college level curriculum in English, Algebra, Science and Biology. The test is used by most colleges and universities as a determining factor for acceptance into programs and in qualifying for scholarships.
Fort Smith Public Schools continue to search for ways in which to improve student performance on the ACT exam. The District is also committed to helping more students take the test in hopes that more will go on to higher education.