Carson City, NV – June 27, 2017
For Immediate Release
Nevada’s ACT scores remained flat for the third straight year with a composite score of 17.4, indicating only 10 percent of the state’s high school juniors are college ready.
“I remain very disappointed in our overall results,” said Steve Canavero, Ph.D., Superintendent of Public Instruction. “These results are unacceptable and for the benefit of our kids’ future, we must begin to improve.”
However, the Nevada Department of Education has identified four high schools that have shown significant growth on their ACT results over the past three years that can be directly attributed to interventions taken at those schools.
- Leadership Academy of Nevada rose 3.7 percentage points for a composite score of 22.6 in 2017.
- Carlin High School in the Elko County School District (ECSD) rose 1.4 to 17.5.
- Southeast Career Technical Academy in the Clark County School District (CCSD) rose 1.2 to 19.6.
- Wells High School in ECSD rose 1.1 to 18.5.
“Nevada began offering the ACT, for free, to all 11th graders in our state because we knew the new Nevada economy would require more from our students to be successful and competitive,” Canavero said. “These schools are demonstrating that with the right strategies and preparation the sky is the limit for Nevada students.”
Wells Principal Chris McAnany attributes the rise at his school to changing the school day from seven periods to four so that teachers can dive deeper into subjects. There was one 90-minute block that was created to specifically focus on remediation in core subjects.
“As a staff, we focused on what we had to do to get students who were scoring 14s on the ACT up into the 18s,” McAnany said. “The way we organized the school day benefited everyone because we know the top-flight kids are doing great, but this allowed us to focus on the rest of the kids who needed extra help. I’m just grateful that we had the support from the district and buy-in from our staff because it worked.”
At Southeast Tech, Principal Kerry Pope said the motivation was scoring high enough on the ACT to be eligible to take real college classes offered by Nevada State College Henderson and the College of Southern Nevada at greatly reduced prices.
“Our students knew that if they hit a certain level on the ACT, they would be eligible to take college classes in English, Sociology, Psychology and Education classes for $50 to $60,” Pope said. “What’s great about this is college may not be a reality for all of our students, so this gave them the motivation to hit a mark and take a class at a rate they can afford.”
Janice Alexander, the Principal at Carlin, said her school’s strategy has been to focus on core competencies in reading and writing.
“Pushing English is a key to success no matter what the subject matter,” Alexander said. “We’ve also emphasized how important it is to be prepared for some kind of post-secondary education after they leave here, whether its career education or college.”
Leadership Academy Executive Director Bryon Richardson attributed his students’ growth to a philosophy of measuring thinking capacity more than content knowledge, using curriculum that is engaging and students operating in a psychologically safe environment.
“While our scores statewide remained flat, these schools should be commended for blazing a path other schools can follow as we all work to become the fastest-improving state in the nation,” Canavero said. “Nevada has adopted rigorous, high-quality standards and in the Every Student Succeeds Act plan we benchmarked ourselves to compete nationally by setting a goal to improve our composite score from 17.4 to 20 by 2022.”
For the third straight year, 10 percent of Nevada’s 11th graders who took the ACT met all four of its College Readiness Benchmarks Scores. Nevada’s composite benchmark remained at 17.4, for the third straight year. Nevada’s scores versus the national benchmark are:
- English; Nevada 16.1, national benchmark 18
- Math; Nevada 17.6, national benchmark 22
- Reading; Nevada 17.6, national benchmark 22
- Science, Nevada 17.7, national benchmark 23
The number of 11th graders in Nevada who took the test, according to ACT, increased from 31,851 to 33,468. Of the number of students who tested, 28% were White, 5% Asian, 7% African Americans, and 37% Hispanic/Latino, accurately reflecting the diversity of Nevada. There were 11,521 11th-grade test takers who met the benchmark score in English, 6,398 who met the benchmark in math, 7,959 who met the reading benchmark, and 5,154 who met the benchmark in science.
A benchmark score is the minimum score needed on an ACT subject-area test to indicate a 50 percent chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75 percent chance of obtaining a C or higher in the corresponding credit-bearing college courses, which include English Composition, Algebra, Social Science, and Biology.