Muskego - Muskego students' scores on the 2011-12 ACT college entrance exams placed them squarely in the top third of the 34 districts with high schools in southeastern Wisconsin.
The composite score of 23.7 makes last year the fourth year the average ACT score was in the 23s out of the last five years. The exception was the previous year when the composite broke through to 24. School officials had hoped to sustain that momentum, but scores often fall back before they stay at the next higher level, school officials said.
State second in nation
The district's 23.7 overall score still far outdistanced the statewide average of 22.1 and the nationwide average of 21.1. Muskego students are in fast company, with Wisconsin's class of 2012 tying with Iowa for second in the nation on the ACTs.
Only Minnesota was ahead with a score of 22.8.
There are plenty of positives in Muskego's ACT scores, Superintendent Kelly Thompson said.
"We're pleased that more students took the ACT," she said. "That's positive because more students are feeling capable and prepared to take the ACT and more are looking to go on to higher education.
Strong math scores
"A real positive indicator is the math scores," she said.
Math had the highest composite score of all four subjects tested, coming in at 24.1 while science was at 23.6, reading at 23.4 and English at 23.2.
The significance of the math score is that it was the second year that math was at least 24.
The reason for the improvement could be the stronger math program from kindergarten through eighth grade, Thompson said. But just as likely is the additional college-level math classes the high school has, she said.
"The more higher math classes, the better they will score," she said.
While scores overall dipped a bit from the year before, it wasn't enough to indicate a trend that reverses the school's upward climb over the 15 years for which data is available from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, she said. Muskego's overall score was 21.8 in the 1997-98 school year.
And the schools have already mapped out strategies to bring scores even higher.
As they have to align the curriculums to the new Common Core standards, they also will seek to embed material that students will encounter on the ACTs as well, Thompson said.
They also are looking at providing more opportunities to prepare for the ACT tests right at school, she said. That could be either blended online instruction or during summer school, she said.
They also are starting to emphasize to freshmen that they should take ACT preparation courses and as much math as possible so they will be ready for the ACT and the doors it opens, she said.
Opportunities are even being explored at the middle schools. School officials are looking at offering pre-advanced placement at the middle school. Advanced placement courses are college-level courses where students have to pass a test to get actual college credit.
- Jane Ford-Stewart
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