Suffolk students under state average on ACT

Published 10:45 pm Thursday, August 18, 2011

Suffolk’s class of 2011 from both public and private schools performed under the state average on the American College Testing exam, according to college readiness reports.

The Suffolk students scored a compound score of 19.3, which was a slight increase from the past year. Only 11 percent of Suffolk students who took the ACT were considered college-ready.

In contrast, the state public school class had a composite score of 22.2 — more than a point above the national average — out of a perfect 36. About 32 percent across the state were considered college-ready.


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The ACT exam is a multiple-choice test that questions students on what they have learned in high school English, math, reading and science.

Students can use their ACT scores while applying for college in the same way they can submit their SAT scores for consideration.

The ACT test scores also gauge each student’s readiness for college using certain benchmarks.

Since 2007, the number of students taking the ACT has increased both state- and city-wide.

Phyllis Sharpe, Suffolk Public Schools high school coordinator, said when guidance counselors discuss college admission requirements with students, they help them decide whether it is better for them to take the SAT or ACT.

“During classroom presentations and individual conferences, counselors share with students the components of each test,” Sharpe said. “After reviewing information, the student and parents decide which test will be most advantageous for the student.”

The ACT College Readiness Benchmarks are specific scores students need to receive in each subject area in order to be considered college and career ready.

Students who reach these benchmarks are considered prepared to complete college courses in English composition, algebra, social science and biology.

“Virginia students continue to make progress toward meeting ACT’s college readiness benchmarks even though the testing example is increasingly less exclusive,” said Patricia I. Wright, the state superintendent of public instruction.

Wright said she thinks this percentage will grow as schools put into place new Standards of Learning.

“I expect additional progress toward college readiness as schools implement new and more rigorous Standards of Learning in mathematics, English and science,” she said.