By Jeannie Petrus
St. Mary’s Catholic School has released the results of the Spring 2019 ACT Aspire tests, given to its students in grades three-10, and the ACT test, given to students in grades 11-12. “Overall, I am very happy with the results of ACT Aspire tests and the composite ACT score for our 2019 high school seniors” said Andrea Harrell, SMS principal. “The scores indicate a remarkably high percentage of student progress and college readiness, but at the same time shows us the areas we need to make improvements.”
ACT Aspire assesses student readiness in English, math, reading, science, and writing for students in grades three-10.
The test incorporates multiple question types including constructed response, and selected response to better assess student knowledge and provide more meaningful insights. St. Mary’s goal is to have students meet the standard benchmarks for a particular subject or exceed those benchmarks.
St. Mary’s students did their best work on the English portion of the 2019 ACT Aspire exams with a score of 90 percent school-wide. When compared to other students who took the test, the score of St. Mary’s English meeting the benchmark exceeded the state, national and diocesan scores in every grade (three-10).
The spring assessment that was given in 2019 shows more than 80 percent of the seventh graders scored at the “ready” or “exceeding” levels, making them the top grade-level performers in that subject area. In the areas of science, math and reading, the scores remained “relatively steady” as compared with the 2018 results. Math and reading scores increased slightly (64/63 in math and 63/60 in reading) and decreased by one point (65/66) in science. But when compared to five years ago, the growth was greater in improvement ranging from six to 19 points.
“Growth takes time,” said Harrell. “This indicates to me that we are on track for meeting our benchmarks for the related subject.” On the other hand, the scores can indicate where improvements or changes need to be made. “Last year, our lowest scores were in junior high math,” said Harrell. “So this year, we doubled the teaching time in junior high math, which resulted in the scores doubling in junior high math.”
In 2013, the State of Louisiana required all 11th grade students (college-bound or not) to take the American College Test or ACT. It covers four academic skill areas including English, math, reading and science reasoning and an optional direct writing test.
Each section of the test is scored on a scale of one to 36. The final score for each test section is then averaged to find the composite score. It is accepted by all four-year colleges and universities in the U.S and is used to make admission decisions. The composite score for the 2019 St. Mary’s seniors taking the test is 23, an increase over last year’s 22. It exceeds the state score of 18.9 and the national score of 20.7. “We have found that utilizing the ACT Aspire exams in the lower grades and through the 10th grade, ultimately increases the ACT scores in high school,” said Harrell. But at the same time, our goal is to continuously strive to offer our students the best academic education.”
St. Mary’s recent goal of applying for a Blue Ribbon School status was close to becoming a reality last year, but missed it by three points. The nationally acclaimed Blue Ribbon School program, established in 1982, honors public and nonpublic schools in each state that are either high-performing or have closed achievement gaps. These schools demonstrate that all students can achieve at high levels. There are currently only seven Louisiana schools (all in South Louisiana) that have achieved this status.
St. Mary’s School is accredited by the Louisiana Department of Education and AdvancedED.