By CASSIE MCKEE, Four Points News
Leander ISD students beat the state and national averages on the ACT college-entrance exam and students at Vandegrift High School beat even the Leander ISD average, according to data recently released from LISD.
For 2014, the average ACT composite score (scale of 1 – 36) for an LISD graduate was 23.6, while the state and national average composite scores were 20.9 and 21.0 respectively. Last year, students at VHS had an average ACT score of 25.3, according to VHS Principal Charlie Little.
Little said the ACT and SAT tests are very good measuring tools of a student’s education because the tests are consistent from state to state.
“It’s a good indicator of a student’s overall educational experience,” Little said. “So having a good score means you offer quality instruction. If you have a high average, it means students are getting a great education in your school.”
Little credited several factors for VHS’s high average score. One of the biggest factors, he said, is that the school has built in 37 minutes of time to each school day called personalized instruction time (PIT time) where students have the flexibility to work on whatever they choose. One of the options they can choose is a PSAT boot camp. Beginning in the sophomore year, the boot camp teaches students test-taking strategies. Strategies for both the SAT and the ACT are very similar, he said.
“One of the reasons (our score) is higher than other schools is we have built time into the day so students can get that focused time to prepare for the SAT,” Little said. “This PIT time really gives kids choices to excel. The school benefits from it. Everybody’s rising up with the program. That’s probably what sets us apart.”
He said other LISD high schools are starting to implement the same model into their schools.
Little also acknowledged that the VHS student body is very fortunate to have a lot of at-home and community support.
“Our kids come in with a lot of support and advantages,” he said. “We’re blessed with great students and parents. Our kids come to school knowing that if they want to go to college, they’re going to college. We also do interventions for students who are struggling. That’s why our free and reduced lunch kids are doing so well.”
ACT tests are administered for a number of subject areas including English, math, reading, science and writing (optional). The ACT also reports the percentage of students ready for college course-work in English composition, algebra, social science and biology.
Forty-three percent of LISD ACT test-takers achieved the college readiness standard in all four subjects, as compared with 26 percent meeting that standard at both the state and national levels.
“We are very proud to see that our students’ ACT scores are continuing to outpace the state and national averages,” said LISD Superintendent Bret Champion. “LISD is committed to ensuring that all students graduate with every option open, and our students’ performances on the ACT indicate that our college- and career-readiness efforts are on the right track to successfully position our students for post-secondary opportunities.”
The top five Texas universities selected by LISD ACT test-takers to receive these scores (in descending order) were: Texas A&M University, University of Texas at Austin, Texas State University, Texas Tech University and Baylor University.
For the first time, LISD is offering an official ACT test for all interested juniors during the school day. The test is scheduled for April 28, 2015. Additional ACT and other college-readiness information and resources are available on district’s college- and career-readiness webpage.