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Newton County School System students increased their scores across the board on the 2021 ACT, with English and Reading both seeing gains of 1.6 points. The district’s Math, Science, and Composite scores all increased by 1.5 points in 2021. Despite the gains, the school system lags behind the state and nation in all but one testing category. NCSS students bested their national counterparts by one-tenth of one point in Science last school year.

The number of test-takers decreased in 2021, both locally and across the state and nation due to the impacts of COVID-19 and the temporary waiver of SAT/ACT score requirements for University System of Georgia admissions.

Unlike the SAT, a reasoning test that measures critical thinking skills and assesses how well a student analyzes and solves problems, the ACT is a series of curriculum-based, multiple-choice tests that covers content knowledge in four basic skill areas: English (College English Composition), Math (College Algebra), Reading (College Social Science), and Science (College Biology). Students also receive a composite score on the exam, which is scored on a scale from 0 to 36. The ACT also has an optional writing test.

According to the official ACT report, Alcovy High School students posted significant gains in 2021, with English increasing by 2.6 points and Math increasing by 2.1 points. The school’s Science score rose 1.7 points and Reading increased by 1.2 points. As a result, the school’s overall composite score increased 2 points in 2021. In addition, Alcovy students surpassed the national averages in English, Science, and the composite and matched U.S. test-takers in Math.

Eastside High School students also posted gains across the board on the ACT in 2021 and bested the nation in every category, too. The school’s English score increased 1 point and Math increased by seven tenths of 1 point. Both the Reading and Science scores increased one-half of 1 point last year. Overall, Eastside’s composite score increased by seven-tenths of a point.

Like their counterparts at Alcovy and Eastside, Newton High School students also posted gains in every category of the ACT in 2021. Science increased 1.1 points and Reading increased 1.5 points. The school’s English score increased by half a point and Math increased six-tenths of 1 point. Overall, Newton’s composite score increased by nine-tenths of a point.

“I am very proud of the commitment and dedication of all of our students, teachers, and leaders,” said Newton County School Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey. “The last 19 months have been challenging for both our students and staff, but in spite of the obstacles, those students who took the ACT still posted gains across the board. I want to recognize the students and staff at Alcovy and Eastside High Schools for surpassing the nation. Alcovy outpaced the nation in two categories and matched them in one, and Eastside exceeded the nation in all five categories! Congratulations!

“Our staff works hard to equip our students to be well-rounded and prepared for the future; therefore, we are reviewing our results to identify areas where we might make curricular and instructional adjustments to strengthen our students’ academic experiences,” Fuhrey added. “These results, coupled with the SAT, PSAT, and Iowa results, help us to plan strategically as early as kindergarten.”

Through collaborative research with postsecondary institutions nationwide, the ACT has established college readiness benchmark scores for designated courses — the minimum score needed on an ACT subject-area test to indicate a 50% chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75% chance of obtaining a C or higher in the corresponding credit-bearing courses, which include English Composition, Algebra, Social Science and Biology. The College Readiness Benchmark Scores are:

• English Composition — 18 on the ACT English Test

• College Algebra — 22 on the ACT Mathematics Test

• Social Science — 22 on the ACT Reading Test

• Biology — 23 on the ACT Science Test

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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