As more students opt to take it, Forsyth County has maintained its strong scores on the ACT.
The local school system’s composite scores on the ACT, which along with the SAT is used by many colleges and universities as an entrance exam, have been between 23.1 and 23.6 since 2009. The most recent results were a 23.5, an increase from last year’s 23.3.
"I am proud that we continued to increase our number of ACT test takers this year," said system Superintendent Buster Evans. "In five years, close to 500 more Forsyth County students have taken the ACT, opening more opportunities to a larger number of students.
“Also, as a district, I am pleased that we maintained our English score and I am thrilled that we increased math, reading and science scores.”
Despite fractional increases or decreases here and there, Forsyth has outperformed the state by about 3 points over the past five years.
Beth Kieffer, director of assessment, said students are encouraged to take both the ACT and SAT, as often students will perform better on one over the other.
“The ACT is definitely more subject-based, more content based. It’s more like sitting down and taking the [End of Course Test],” she said. “The SAT is more aptitude.”
Kieffer recalled how it wasn’t that long ago that the ACT was not commonly taken in the region.
“Both counselors and students realize now most of the colleges in and around the South will take one or the other,” she said. “Whichever one you do better on is what the colleges will look at.”
Karl Mercer, assessment coordinator, said the county’s students are performing higher than the benchmarks. According to ACT information, that means they are exceeding the averages and will have a 50 percent chance of earning a “B” or higher or a 75 percent chance of earning a “C” or higher in the corresponding college credit course.
But much like SAT results, there’s always room to grow. About 41 percent of students in the county met the benchmarks in all four subject areas — English composition; algebra; social science; and biology.
The ACT compared scores to how students would perform in college-level courses and about 41 percent of them would meet the standards in all four subjects.
Kieffer noted, however, that’s not to say students who didn’t meet the standards won’t do well in college.
“It’s work ethic and study,” she said. “There are students who don’t score the benchmark score who do fine in college, they just might have to work harder and go to help sessions.
“They may perform a ‘B’ or ‘C’ with a lower ACT score, however they’re going to have to put in more work.”
In 2009, 772 students took the ACT. This year, that rose to more than 1,240.
Mercer said with the growth in popularity of the ACT, the school system is working with students on how to raise their scores.
“We push our kids to take the SAT and take the ACT for the schools to look at the results and see what kind of changes they need to make in instruction,” he said. “The ACT and SAT are just two more pieces of information that help us inform the schools and to make instructional decisions.”
“It gives us information about college readiness of students and how we can push those students even farther.”
Positive results are also reflected at Pinecrest Academy, where students earned an average score of 25.
“Pinecrest students have been able to achieve excellent results in all areas, in this case reflected specifically in the school's consistently high AP scores,” said Ed Lindekugel, principal of the upper school at the private Catholic school in south Forsyth.
“We are blessed to have wonderful families who share our common goal of helping each student maximize their potential in every major aspect of their being: spirit, character, service and intellect.”