Acts scores yield mixed results

Bulletin photos by Stephen Dow

Austyn Carder, Calvin Rule and Jace Skovgard do homework in a science class at Buffalo High School. The 2018-2019 ACT scores brought mixed results for BHS with the school outperforming the state average in science and reading, but scoring below the average in English and math.

After a high-achieving class in 2017-18, the performance of Buffalo High School’s 2018-19 junior class on the ACT test could be seen as a disappointment.

But while BHS’ average composite score of 19.6 is down 1.4 points from its 2017-18 score of 21.0, the school still has a lot to celebrate, Principal Jodi Ibach said.

“We don’t have as many outliers; fewer students scored in the 30s (in 2018-2019),” Ibach said in an email interview with the Buffalo Bulletin. “There is always room for improvement regardless of performance year to year. … (but) scores indicate that BHS has well rounded students who are achieving in all areas.”

All high school juniors across the state take the ACT in the spring. The students are tested on math, science, English and reading and are scored on a scale of 1 to 36. The scores are among the factors considered by college admissions officers when determining whether to admit a student.

The 82 BHS students who took the ACTs during the 2018-19 school year scored an average composite score of 19.6, which came in just a bit higher than the state’s average composite score of 19.5 for the same year, according to statistics released by the Wyoming Department of Education on Aug. 28. The school also outperformed the state average on two of the four tested categories: reading (20.0 compared with 19.8) and science (20.1 compared with 19.5).

However, the school performed under the state average in English (18.5 compared with 19.3) and math (19.5 compared with 20.0) and saw a decrease in scores across the board when compared with its own performance in 2017-18.

Year to year, English scores dropped from 20.0 to 18.5, math dropped from 20.2 to 19.5, reading dropped from 21.8 to 20.0 and science dropped from 21.2 to 20.1.

“Last year’s  (2017-2018) class has always been an exceptionally high scoring group,” Ibach said. “Even though last year’s class had exceptional scores, there are always fluctuations as not all classes have the same areas of strength or talents and abilities.”

While the fluctuations may be normal, Ibach said her staff is hard at work parsing the data and looking for ways to strengthen instruction so that students are sufficiently prepared for the test and can put their best foot forward as they head into college.

“BHS growth hinges on our teachers and their willingness to continue to grow and improve their craft – strong teachers result in successful students,” Ibach said. “We will need to look at the specifics of the test results and narrow down any standards that our students as a whole missed and then evaluate our curriculum, content, instruction to figure out why our students missed this information and make needed adjustments.”  

With only six students tested in the 2018-19 year, Kaycee School did not have sufficient data to calculate a composite score. In the 2017-18 year, the school had a composite score of 18.3, according to the WDE.

Statewide ACT scores – including individualized scores for each school that took the test- can be accessed at https://edu.wyoming.gov/data/assessment-reports/.

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