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Opinion

Class ACT: Scores show region's students, schools have reason to be proud

September 13th, 2015 12:00 pm by Editorial Board

Class ACT: Scores show region's students, schools have reason to be proud

ACT scores reveal there are plenty of smart, hardworking students in Northeast Tennessee.

Kudos to Dobyns-Bennett High School for the highest ACT composite score, a 22.2, among public schools in the region. Kudos also to Sullivan North for being the only county school to increase its composite score a whopping 1.5 points, from 19.3 to 20.8.

And kudos to Clinch High School in Hawkins County, a remote and rural school on the north side of Clinch Mountain, which increased from a 2014 composite of 16.6 to a 19.0.

D-B’s 22.5 composite bested Sullivan South and Science Hill, and North’s 20.8 increased again this year while the other three county high schools decreased. Sullivan South, which fell from 20.28 to 20.07, still exceeds the state average of 19.4 for public schools and 19.8 for public and private schools combined. Sullivan East and Central posted decreases from 19.4 to 18.8 and from 19.7 to 19.3, respectively.

The Kingsport City Schools’ 22.2, which includes the scores from the alternative/virtual schools Cora Cox Academy and D-B EXCEL, put it seventh in the state. It was fifth in the state last year, but two new districts were created from high school districts that pulled out of the combined Memphis/Shelby County school system.

D-B Principal Chris Hampton said that starting with the class of 2016, KCS will have only one systemwide/D-B composite, which simplifies things. And if the facilities study plan in the county moves forward as county officials have indicated, in five years or so Sullivan County will go from four high schools to two: a high school of up to 1,700 students populated by current North, South and some Central zone students and a refurbished Sullivan East populated by current East students and some Central students.

That change is to better serve students with more varied programs and save operational costs in the long run, which should also have the effect of helping increase or at least maintain ACT scores. However, as D-B’s Hampton and North Principal Brent Palmer recently pointed out, the ACT is only one measure of a school’s and a student’s success.

Hampton said that D-B strives to do much more than just increase ACT scores, including preparing students for post-secondary education and jobs. He said Advanced Placement courses do a lot to help ACT scores and prepare students for college.

Palmer said a complete education includes getting students involved in extra-curricular and co-curricular activities, which at many schools can range from athletics to football to robotics or chess clubs.

And while North and D-B came out with great performances on the ACT this year, the rest of the field is not, as they say, chopped liver by any means. Johnson City’s system got a 21.8, or ninth in the state, while Elizabethton was 21.4; Bristol, Tenn., 21.3; Greeneville 21.3; Washington County, Tenn., 20.2; and Sullivan County 19.9.

Hawkins County got a composite of 19.3, up from 18.3 in 2014 and just shy of the state public school average of 19.4. Aside from the Clinch scores already mentioned, Volunteer went from 19.1 to 19.3, while Cherokee went from 18.6 to 19.3

Any given ACT score of any given school or school system in any given year is by no means an absolute reason for condemnation or praise. It is important to note that many of the region’s schools and school systems are doing well or improving on the ACT, a test used by colleges in considering candidates for admission.

Like the old saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.

In this case, those boats are carrying the area’s youth, the next generation that will create the future in which our children and grandchildren will live and work.

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