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College readiness on rise in Georgia

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

The state of college readiness is improving in Georgia, according to a report released by ACT, Inc.

On Wednesday, the not-for-profit testing organization revealed in its report, "The Condition of College & Career Readiness: Class of 2010," that 21 percent of Georgia seniors demonstrated college-readiness in all four areas of its ACT college entrance exam in 2010. That is up from 19 percent last year. Nationally, 24 percent of ACT test-takers demonstrated college-readiness, up from 23 percent last year.

"These findings are very encouraging," said State School Superintendent Brad Bryant. "They suggest more Georgia students are graduating from high school with the academic skills they will need to succeed in college and their chosen career."

The report noted that the average ACT score in Georgia rose slightly in 2010, compared to 2009. The average score was 20.7, up from 20.6 last year. The national average composite score was 21.0, down from 21.1 in 2009. The figures place Georgia seniors in a tie for 34th place in performance on the ACT, up from 40th in 2009, and 47th in 2005.

The results may be part of an expanded focus on college entrance exams, as school officials point to an increasing number of students each year taking college exams such as the ACT and SAT. ACT's report observed that 39,436, or 44 percent of Georgia's 2010 graduating seniors, took the ACT.

"In the past three years, I have seen a dramatic number of seniors taking the ACT in the fall," said Ingrid Forbes, assistant principal for curriculum and instruction at Luella High School in Locust Grove. Forbes is also a national testing site coordinator for the SAT and ACT at Luella High. "The SAT is widely known as the college entry test," said Forbes. She said, however, students increasingly have gravitated toward the ACT.

College-bound students are finding out that many colleges accept both the SAT aptitude test and the ACT achievement test as entrance exams, according to the school administrator. "They're always surprised to learn that there is another option," Forbes said. "I find that some of our students are more likely to repeat the ACT than the SAT. The composite score, sometimes for students, is easier for them to wrap their head around it. You get a score for each component part. And the science reasoning is always a strong score, and sometimes, [students] are a lot more encouraged by it. It's more encouraging for students that are retaking the test."

Forbes said she plans to visit senior English classes at Luella High next week to remind students to register for the college entrance exams. The regular registration deadline for the Sept. 11 administration of the ACT has passed. However, the registration deadline for the Oct. 23 ACT exam is set for Sept. 17, according to the ACT web site.

The next SAT exam will be administered on Oct. 9, with a registration deadline of Sept. 10, according to The College Board, the not-for-profit association that writes the SAT. The College Board also writes assessments for its Advanced Placement (AP) Program for high school students.

The College Board-inspired AP courses, Forbes said, are also helpful to college-bound high school students, because of their increased rigor. She expects AP enrollment to reach a record high at her school this year.

"Students who have taken at least two years of AP courses don't have the challenges in college that a student who did not take those courses in high school," she said.

Forbes said she encourages students to get more involved in the AP Program at the school, because she believes taking AP courses will help students in their performance on the SAT, as well as the ACT. "Every child won't go to college, but we want them to be able to choose," she said.

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On the net:

ACT, Inc.: www.actstudent.org.

The College Board: www.collegeboard.com.