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Farmington High School trails state on ACT results

Farmington High School students did worse than their peers statewide but better than the national average on this year's ACT test.

FHS principal Ben Kusch presented results from the 2010 ACT at a school board meeting last week. The average ACT score at FHS this year was 21.8, compared to 22.9 statewide.

FHS also trailed the state average in the percent of students meeting so-called benchmark scores in the subject areas covered by the test. Benchmark scores are identified by the ACT as the minimum score a student needs to indicate a 50 percent chance of getting a B on a college-level course.

In English composition, 77 percent of FHS student met that benchmark score, compared to 79 percent statewide and 66 percent nationally. On the algebra section of the test, 49 percent of FHS student met the benchmark score, compared to 61 percent statewide and 43 percent nationally.

Fifty-six percent of FHS students met the ACT benchmark in social sciences, compared to 65 percent statewide and 52 percent nationally. On the biology test, 31 percent of FHS students met benchmarks, compared to 42 percent statewide and 29 percent nationally.

Only 25 percent of FHS students met the benchmark score in all four subject areas. Statewide, 35 percent of students met or exceeded all four benchmarks, and nationally 24 percent of students hit those marks.

FHS board member Tim Burke called the ACT results "disturbing."

"It kind of matches up with our experience with the high school (Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment) scores as well, that we perform below the level of our neighbors, below the state level," Burke said. "We've got some issues here."

The organization that offers the ACT makes suggestions to improve performance, and Kusch said many of the recommended actions are already being implemented at FHS.

The school has seen an increase in the number of students taking the ACT. In 2005, roughly half of the eligible students at FHS took the ACT. This year, about 65 percent took the test.

Kusch said the school is also doing more to make the school's core curriculum a priority for students. He said students who take four years of science, math, social studies and English have had success on the ACT.

"The students who are making those choices are having some kind of success," Kusch told board members.

Kusch said FHS administrators will continue to study the ACT data delivered last month to look for areas where the school can improve.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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