SHERIDAN — Wyoming students in the class of 2017 did slightly better on the ACT than the previous year, according to results released last week by ACT, Inc.
The class of 2017 had a composite average test score of 20.2, compared to 20.0 for the class of 2016. The three-year trend stayed about even, as the class of 2015 also had a composite average of 20.2.
When breaking up the ACT into its four subjects, Wyoming students scored an average of 19.4 on the English section, 19.8 on mathematics, 20.8 on reading and 20.6 on science.
According to data released by Sheridan County School District 2, its district class of 2017 had a composite average of 21.5, the third highest in the state and highest for 4A schools. SCSD1 had an average score of 21.2, and SCSD3 was at 18.2.
Wyoming is one of 17 states that required all of its high school juniors to take the ACT. The average score for those states was 19.7. Of those 17 states, Wyoming had the seventh-best average score. Minnesota was first with an average of 21.5.
Sheridan High School principal Brent Leibach said he was “absolutely in favor” of all high school juniors taking the ACT like Wyoming mandates.
“You may not have college in your sights as a junior, but that might change,” Leibach said. “This is an open door for a lot of our students. You score well on the ACT, it opens some doors for you, especially if you’re headed for post-secondary education.”
Leibach also said that when 100 percent of students take the test, it makes a school look at how it can improve and help those who are struggling.
“Every student matters,” he said. “We want to know how our students are doing across the board, because we have a responsibility to take care of each and every student. That’s our job. Whether you’re going to college or whether you’re going to the military or into a trade after school, we have a responsibility to do our best in educating that student.”
Statewide, 70 percent of class of 2017 students met or were within two points of the ACT college readiness benchmark in English. Fifty-five percent of students met or were within two points of the benchmark in mathematics. The numbers for reading and science were 43 percent and 50 percent, respectively.
Leibach said Sheridan High School had its best ever score, with a composite average of 22.8, edging the school’s previous best of 21.7.
“This hasn’t just happened by chance,” Leibach said. “It is the result of this staff that has put in a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of energy.”
Leibach also credited the preparation students receive before entering high school.
“Nobody’s doing it better than our elementary schools and our junior high school,” he said. “We get kids who are extremely well-prepared. Our job, then, is to take them to the next level.”
He said part of the reason for the top score was “to know what strategies our kids needed to do well in that test and then embed that into our curriculum. It was just part of the learning process.”
Sheridan high school gives an online pre-ACT test to juniors October 4. The results are known immediately, allowing for more specific preparation. SCSD3 gives a similar test to sophomores in January.
Leibach said he was proud of the students and teachers but not satisfied.
“It’s never-ending,” he said. “Our teachers are already back to work trying to figure out how we can do better.”