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ACT results released Thursday show that Elgin was the only public school in Antelope County to either meet or exceed the state average. All other schools were 1 point or more below the state average.
Elgin's Class of 2017 ACT test results show a composite score of 21.8, just above the state average of 21.4 and the national average of 21.0. The highest score possible on the exam is 36.
“We like to see our kids have success in regards to the ACT, but we understand that their is more educating our students than just one test score,” said Elgin principal Greg Wemhoff. “We always try and focus on the big picture of educating our kids thoroughly on the subject matter as well as having High expectations. Also, we feel it is just as important, if not more so, for them to work on being well-rounded, responsible, effort driven and dedicated learners. It is our belief if we do those things well, the individual scores and testing along the way takes care of itself.”
The Nebraska Department of Education released the Nebraska ACT scores officially on Thursday, although the districts had already received their results.
Comparing the Antelope County schools, Elkhorn Valley was second with a composite score average of 20.4. That was below the state average but above the national average.
Neligh-Oakdale's 20.0 was also below the state average but was the same as the national average. The Unified District (Orchard-Verdigre-Clearwater) was just below the national average with a 19.9, as well as the state average.
As far as the number of students taking the test, Elgin had just 11 seniors while Elkhorn Valley had 13. At Neligh-Oakdale, 26 took the ACT. There were 25 seniors who took the exam from the Unified District.
“Low numbers can make the results sway one way our the other very quickly,” Wemhoff said. “We understand that our average could drop or increase drastically from year to year. All we can do is continue to do the best preparing the kids the best we can.”
Statewide, 18,993 graduates took the ACT. That's up from 17,745 in 2013. Juniors began taking the ACT last year, but their results won't be reported until after their graduation in 2018.
Wemhoff said while the ACT is one good measurement of the students preparedness for college, it is not the only deciding factor of the future success of the student.
“Making it a benchmark is only OK as long as the public and the students understand that fact, and that it is not the same as lower grade bench marks that test basic skills and subject competencies,” he said. “It is a college preparedness and NOT a life preparedness, or vocational preparedness or job ready preparedness benchmark. In that respect, I think it is too post-secondary educationally centered to be applied to all Nebraska juniors of the public schools.”
The ACT is broken down into four categories - English, math, reading and science. Elgin's highest score was in math with a 22.3, followed by English 22.2, science 22.0 and reading 20.5.
For Elkhorn Valley, the highest score was in math at 20.7, followed by reading 20.4, English, 19.9 and science 19.9.
Neligh-Oakdale's highest score was in reading at 20.8, followed by science 20.7, math 19.3 and English 18.8.
Unified District's highest score was in reading at 20.8, followed by science 20.6, English 19.2 and math 18.4.
Nebraska Key Findings
• Nebraska graduates of 2017 had an average Composite score of 21.4, compared to the national average of 21.0.
• Compared to the 2017 Nebraska graduating class Composite average of 21.4, Nebraska graduates in 2016 and 2013 had Composite averages of 21.4 and 21.5, respectively.
• Nebraska African American 2017 graduates who took the ACT had an average Composite score of 17.6. This compares to average Composite scores of 17.2 and 17.1 for graduating classes from 2016 and 2013, respectively.
• In 2017, 28 percent of Nebraska graduates met all four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks. This compares to 28 and 28 percent of 2016 and 2013 graduates, respectively.
• In 2017, 27 percent of Nebraska graduates met zero ACT College Readiness Benchmarks. This compares to 27 and 25 percent of 2016 and 2013 graduates, respectively.