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College Entrance Exam Reveals Students Aren't Prepared

On May 15th, the assessment organization A-C-T released a study saying an increasing number of high school graduates are unprepared for college coursework.

KSMU's Matt Petcoff investigated whether or not this trend holds true in the Springfield area...

For more than 40 years, American high school students have been taking the ACT to help get into college.

The standardized test, which is administered by ACT, evaluates a student's ability and understanding in four major subjects... English, Math, Science and Reading.

The highest score possible is a 36 with the national average hovering around 21.

Springfield students frequently score above the national average, with overall district scores between 22 and 23.

However, ACT is reporting trends across the nation that indicate more and more students aren't prepared for freshman level course work.

This statement is based on the decreasing number of students meeting ACT "benchmarks" or scores on the test that often correlate to success in the given subject.

Ed Colby is a spokesman for ACT.

He says high school curricula aren't challenging enough.

The state of Missouri has recently increased its requirements for the number of classes high school students must take.

Beginning with this past school year, all incoming high school freshman will need 24 credits to graduate... an increase of 2 credit hours.

This brings Missouri's requirements up to par with what ACT recommends.

Dan Ellis is the senior guidance counselor at Ozark High School, which also scores above the national average on the ACT.

With most school districts already requiring more than 24 credits to graduate, Ellis says another area of the states education process could be changed.

But, a lack of understanding in a particular subject isn't the only reason freshmen struggle in college.

Earle Doman is the acting Vice President for Student Affairs at Missouri State.

He says students are often surprised with the amount of work college courses require.

High School and college administrators around the area all seemed to agree that Math and English are the two subjects students struggle with the most.

But, one thing that wasn't as easy to agree on was how well the ACT predicts a student's success.

Kelvin Pamperien (Pomp-er-ing) is the director of instructional improvement with the Springfield School district and has also served as principal at Glendale High School.

He says while the ACT can't predict how hard a student will work, it has been a good measure of subject comprehension.

Ed Colby with ACT says the test can't predict every student's future success.

But, he says taking a test like the ACT could indicate how well students will perform on exams in college courses which are often a large component of a student's grade.

So, while other factors can come in to play, a student's ability to take a test is still an important factor in educational success.