By JAMES EVANS
Rutherford County Schools
Students who graduated from Rutherford County Schools last year earned an eight-year high average score on the ACT assessment, according to information released today by the Tennessee Department of Education.
The ACT is a national college level entrance exam that includes math, reading, English and science, and students receive scores from 1-36.
The state’s report shows that Rutherford County Schools’ composite ACT average for 2017 is 20.8, which is up more than a half a point from last August’s 20.2 composite score. In addition, Rutherford continues to outperform the state average, which has reached 20.1, according to the report.
“As a school district, we have emphasized the importance of students enrolling in as many advanced classes as they can to help them stretch and reach their potential,” Director of Schools Don Odom said. “Our high school principals have carried the same message because research shows students who take higher level classes tend to maintain high achievement in their academic careers after high school. Our ACT scores reflect that philosophy.”
In 2010, Tennessee began requiring all juniors to take the ACT regardless of whether they were planning to pursue a college degree. Seniors have the option to retake the assessment. This year’s scores for Rutherford County mark the highest average since the 2010 requirement was implemented.
Central Magnet School leads all Rutherford County high schools — and most others in the state – with a composite ACT score of 30, which is .9 higher than last year’s score. Central was one of two schools in the state that was specifically highlighted by the Tennessee Department of Education in its press release about the results.
Central is an academic magnet school serving grades 6-12. Last spring it was named the best public school in Tennessee and 37th best in the country, according to rankings released by U.S. News & World Report.
“The biggest factor is our kids are challenged in all our classes,” Central Principal Dr. John Ash said. “We offer a large number of Advanced Placement courses and that pushes the kids in every class because of the more difficult requirements. The teachers have high expectations of the students, and the students have high expectations in themselves. They challenge themselves in everything they do.”
Much of RCS’ success is attributed to making core curriculum a priority by ensuring students are taking the right courses, evaluating the rigors of those courses and planning guidance activities based on college and career aspirations.
The district is also utilizing a software program known as Shmoop, which provides students in grades 7-12 with the ability to practice the test and receive analysis of their skill levels.
RCS 2017 ACT Composite scores by school:
- Blackman High School - 21.7
- Central Magnet School - 30.0
- Eagleville School - 20.6
- Holloway High School - 16.3
- LaVergne High School - 18.3
- Oakland High School - 20.1
- Riverdale High School - 20.3
- Smyrna High School - 19.3
- Siegel High School - 20.8
- Stewarts Creek High School - 21.1