School putting emphasis on ACT prep

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School putting emphasis on ACT prep

Juniors Adam Bell and Javier Jimenez get help following an ACT practice math test from math teacher Morgan Wiklen. Juniors rotate between six didfeernt  ACT Prep teachers during second and third quarters of the year.

Juniors Adam Bell and Javier Jimenez get help following an ACT practice math test from math teacher Morgan Wiklen. Juniors rotate between six didfeernt ACT Prep teachers during second and third quarters of the year.

Shelby Fisher

Juniors Adam Bell and Javier Jimenez get help following an ACT practice math test from math teacher Morgan Wiklen. Juniors rotate between six didfeernt ACT Prep teachers during second and third quarters of the year.

Shelby Fisher

Shelby Fisher

Juniors Adam Bell and Javier Jimenez get help following an ACT practice math test from math teacher Morgan Wiklen. Juniors rotate between six didfeernt ACT Prep teachers during second and third quarters of the year.

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In the past month, junior counselor Jerilyn Donovan has been in every English 11 classroom.
Her message was the same: the ACT is coming and you need to be ready.
Wednesday, Oct. 16, was the national release of ACT scores.
Of the 17 states that test all of their public schools’ students via the ACT, Nebraska average composite score of 20.1 ranked fifth among the seventeen states.
The four states ahead of Nebraska included Wisconsin (20.5), Utah (20.4), Ohio (20.3) and Kentucky (20.2).
While the state composite of 20.1, does not appear high, the Scottsbluff average did not contribute positively to that number. Scottsbluff’s score with this year’s seniors was 17.9.
On the surface the test scores may seem low, considerations must be made.
For example, students who have no plans for education beyond high school are required to take the ACT.
“Not only does the state mandate it, but plans do change and students may change their minds later in life,” Donovan said.
Special needs students are also asked to take the ACT.
“Students with special needs have special accommodations, such as extra time or being read to,” Donovan said.
Since the the Nebraska Department of Education made the switch from the juniors taking Nebraska State Assessment (NeSA) to the ACT, more prep material has been available to students that ever before.
“We had John Baylor Test Prep for five years, which was expensive to purchase, and before that teachers incorporated ACT prep into the classroom, with no definite curriculum followed. We also had test prep several weeks before the test every morning at 7 am,” Donovan said.
The state now provides each school district with the free ACT Online Test Prep.
Last years sophomores all took the Pre-ACT, and entered their scores into an online ACT Academy, which individualizes a student’s work, by looking at student’s strengths and weaknesses in certain areas.
“If a student did well in math, but struggled with geometry, the system more focuses on that one area of weakness. That was not availalbe with the John Baylor Test Prep program where students all did the same thing,” Donovan said.
Students are registered into the system early into the school year and have access to the account for the year.
All juniors are required to take an ACT Prep CATS class, and in that eight week period, use the ACT Academy to prepare themselves.
“The time used in the ACT Prep CATS is helpful, but if a student is really serious about it, the tools can be used outside of CATS,” science teacher Jim Bogus said.
All juniors in the state will take the ACT on April 2, 2019.
Donovan is hopeful for the juniors.
“With all of these new tools for the students, I think that this year’s juniors will do better than the previous years,” Donovan said.

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