COLUMBUS — The Class of 2017 at Lakeview High School once again achieved a higher ACT composite score than the state average.

This is a trend that has continued for five years.

This year’s graduates had a composite score of 21.6, a two-tenth drop from 2016 but still higher than the statewide average of 21.4.

Lakeview Junior/Senior High School Principal Steve Borer said that while the school’s ACT score is higher than the state average, there is still room to grow.

“Our reading composite score was lower than the state average again this year, which is an area that we need to improve upon,” Borer said. “Since Nebraska is now requiring all juniors to take the ACT, we are looking at the ACT data more closely than we have in the past.”

All high school juniors took the ACT in April after the Legislature decided to replace the previous NeSA standardized testing with the college admissions exam. This gives the state more access to data the ACT can provide.

The ACT measures four main areas — English, mathematics, reading and science.

Lakeview had 42 students take the ACT in the 2016-17 school year. Each score for the four subjects dropped slightly from 2015-16, except for reading, which increased one point.

According to Borer, a student’s ACT score is an indicator of how well they will fare during their first year of college.

“The purpose of the ACT test is an assessment designed to provide some indication if a student is prepared for college-level work,” he said.

“I believe the most important part of preparing our students for college is providing them a well-rounded curriculum filled with knowledge, skills, character and the mindset needed for our students to be successful in college," Borer added.

ACT scores reflect the importance of taking the suggested four or more years of English and three or more years of math, social studies and natural science classes.

Forty-eight Scotus Central Catholic students took the recommended "core" levels and their composite ACT score was 25.2. The 15 students who took less than the core recommendation scored a 21.2 on average.

The Class of 2017 at Scotus earned ACT scores of 24.4 in English, 25 in math, 23.3 in reading and 23.9 in science. This compares favorably to the statewide averages of 20.9 in English and math, 21.9 in reading and 21.5 in science.

Scotus President Jeff Ohnoutka wasn't surprised by the school's results.

“I am very happy with our scores,” he said. “The senior Class of 2017 was a hard-working group and accomplished many things. It really comes as no surprise to any of us who worked with them on a daily basis that their average scores ranked in our top 10 all-time.”

The composite score at Columbus High School was 18. The graduating class scored an 18 in English, 19 in math, 18.6 in reading and 19.2 in science.

Principal Steve Woodside said there is room for improvement.

“When you test 270 students, that’s quite a range of variability,” Woodside said. “We have some work to do because we aren’t within the range of the state. It’s all about closing that gap and identifying the range our students have and making adjustments in our courses for the students and letting them get a taste in what they are expected to be tested over.”

Woodside said students who take the core classes are doing “quite well." Those students who aren't show where the biggest growth potential lies.

Woodside said preparations for the ACT must begin before students' junior and senior years.

“We have to find that happy medium and close the gap between our scores and the state’s average of 22 or higher,” he said. “But we are excited to see how math and science scores improve with the new STEM program.”

Nebraska was one of 20 states where 80 percent or more of the 2017 graduates took the ACT. The national average composite score held steady at 21.

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