The Richmond County Board of Education heard about efforts to increase students ACT scores at its February meeting Tuesday night.
American College Testing, also known as the ACT, is a college admissions exam that tests students in English, math, science and reading.
Richmond County School Superintendent George Norris said that they are now giving the test to every junior. In past years, the ACT test was only taken by students who wanted to go to college.
On Jan. 23, the start of the new school semester, every student at Richmond Senior High School saw a video explaining the importance of the ACT, said Steve Wood, assistant principal of RSHS.
The video reminded students that a good ACT score does not guarantee entry into college. The video also showed the ACT scores needed for many North Carolina colleges.
Norris said they were unhappy with the test scores from last year, so they are putting more focus on preparing the students for the test to “improve kids scores.”
Several staff members talked about plans that are being utilized in the classroom to better prepare students. Teachers are now giving students 10 minutes at the beginning of each class period to discuss three major areas of the ACT, English, math and science, and also to take practice ACT tests.
The teachers said that they are working with students on content and time management. They are explaining to the students that they have a limited amount of time to take the test and are giving the students less than one minute per practice question to get them comfortable with the short time frame.
They said they are working to reinforce specific ACT testing strategies in relation to reading and writing, which the teachers said is an outline. Reading is not considered one of the three major areas although it is part of the ACT.
The teachers are giving the students longer reading passages and a shorter time frame in which to read those passages. They are also giving them one non-fiction reading passage a week and an accompanying writing prompt that is “content specific” to the reading passage, the board was told.
Keith McKenzie, principal of Richmond Senior High School, said that he hopes to increase ACT scores by 15 percent above the state average.
In other matters, the school board:
• Recognized Sterling Riddick, the winner of the Richmond County Schools Spelling Bee.
• Recognized Maggi Chambers and LaQawan Fisher, winners of the MLK poster and essay contest.
• Heard about the new READY Accountability Model from Richmond County Schools Testing Coordinator, Cynthia Magee. The READY Accountability Model is a way to evaluate teachers based on growth from students end of the year testing scores.
— Staff Writer Laura Edington can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.