MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

September 5, 2012

Fort Gibson schools boast area’s top ACT scores


— By Cathy Spaulding

Times Staff Writer

Most area high schools had better ACT scores in 2012 than in 2011, but still lag behind state and national composites.

ACT scores, released last week by the Oklahoma Department of Education, showed a 2012 state composite score of 20.7, no change from 2011. The national average is 21.1. The ACT is graded on a scale of 0-36 in four areas — English, math, reading and science — as well as a composite of the four scores.

Of 20 area schools, Fort Gibson, with 21.2, had a better composite than the state. But Fort Gibson scored 0.1 percent lower in 2012 than in 2011.

“Schools can expect to see variations like that,” said Fort Gibson Superintendent Derald Glover. “We have a goal of raising our scores up around 23.”

Fort Gibson and Haskell received 2011 College Readiness Awards for increasing ACT scores and participation over previous years.

Muskogee High School raised its composite a half-percent to 19.5 for 2012. Principal Dewayne Pemberton said the scores show “real improvement.”

He said the 2012 scores are Muskogee’s highest since 1995. The 2012 MHS scores improved from 2011 in all test areas.

“We have been very happy that we’re moving in the right direction,” Pemberton said.

He said teachers looked at test results and concentrated on areas that needed improvement.

“We noticed that a lot of the ACT is geometry, and we had been offering geometry after Algebra 2,” Pemberton said. As a result, many MHS students took the test without having taken geometry. MHS now offers geometry before Algebra 2, he said.

“We also cross-walked our PASS Objectives with the ACT,” Pemberton said, referring to the state curriculum in each subject area. “We do practice ACT tests and use the data to help move kids forward.”

Haskell had a score of 16.7, down 2.5 from its 2011 composite of 19.2. Principal Erin Jones said the school is concentrating on “incorporating critical thinking skills” in its curriculum. Haskell also has more students taking ACT prep classes. The school also has software to help students prepare for the ACT and other tests, Jones said.

State Superintendent Janet Barresi said more Oklahoma students than ever took the ACT, 29,342. She said state ACT scores show that schools must focus on math and science.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding @muskogeephoenix.com.