ACT scores are up across the state. Three area parochial high school scores contributed to the state composite score of 21.6 as all secondary school scores make up that number. Of those, Eagle Ridge Christian School's students fared the best with a composite score of 26 out of a possible 36. Notre Dame Regional High School's students had a composite score of 25.4. Saxony Lutheran's students had a score of 20.8. All students who take the ACT contribute to the school's overall composite score.
In 1996 the ACT name changed officially from American College Testing to simply ACT. All secondary schools are included in the state composite score of 21.6.
The ACT is made up of four components: a math section, an English section, a reading section and a science section.
In the case of both Eagle Ridge and Saxony Lutheran, the composite score was heavily affected by each student who took the test. All five Eagle Ridge Christian School seniors took the ACT last year.
Sarah Hess, Eagle Ridge's administrative assistant, said the school's composite score has been the same for a few years now. The school sometimes offers a prep class, and students sometimes attend a class at another school.
Hess said the school located in Cape Girardeau encourages its students to use the CD prep course offered by the ACT.
Notre Dame graduated 120 students in 2005 and all of them took the ACT. They helped make the composite score 25.4 in 2005, .1 of a point better than the year before when the school had an average composite of 25.3
"I'm overjoyed, because in comparison to the local and the nation we are like 5 points above so I'm very pleased," said the school's principal, Brother David Migliorino.
He attributes his students' success to the school's high expectations for them.
"Our students are encouraged to take more challenging classes," he said. "Teachers work very, very hard with those students to make sure that they do well. We encourage them since sophomore year to take the ACTs," he said.
Migliorino said some of his students become familiar with the ACT beginning in the 7th grade.
In 2005, twenty percent of Notre Dame's seniors received the Missouri Bright Flight Scholarship. The scholarship is only available to students who have a composite ACT score of 30 or above.
"I'm just as proud as punch," Migliorino said.
While area public schools offer ACT preparation classes for credit, Notre Dame does not. The school occasionally offers ACT prep classes on weekends.
Saxony Lutheran, in Jackson is just starting to offer an ACT prep course. Before this year, the school only offered in-class reviews for a morning, afternoon or over a few days.
Saxony's composite ACT score dropped from 24.9 to 20.8 this year. Principal Craig Ernstmeyer thinks the small size of the senior class is the reason. Saxony graduated nine seniors in 2005, and eight of them took the test.
"With such a small group of students it's really hard to gauge," he said.
Ernstmeyer said with such a small group, one individual student's score can have a big impact on the school's composit score.
He said expects the freshman and sophomore classes to have higher scores because the class sizes are larger.
Kent King, the state's commissioner of education, said he hopes the trend continues.
"I think it gets harder because you're starting from a higher base each time," he said. "We'd certainly like to see more students taking the ACT because I think that would indicate that more kids are thinking seriously about continuing their education and as our number goes up it's harder to get the scores up."