The Ottumwa Courier

Education

August 21, 2013

Tougher classes boost ACT scores

OTTUMWA — One lesson Ottumwa High School educators want graduates to take into the world: You need to push to succeed, whether in high school, the work world or on the ACT college-entrance exam, the results of which were published today.

“Once again, our data [shows] that high school success and college readiness are not necessarily the same thing,” said a national statement from Jon Whitmore, CEO of the nonprofit ACT group. “Too many students are likely to struggle after they graduate from high school."

Ottumwa superintendent of schools Davis Eidahl said students are truly challenged when they get to college, technical school or on-the-job training. After getting good grades in easy high school classes, they're shocked.

"I think sometimes that is the result of a curriculum that is not rigorous enough," Eidahl said. "The Iowa Core Curriculum is [demanding] a lot more rigorous coursework. It does more than just ask students to [demonstrate] recall. To think critically, to be able to defend a point, to predict, problem solving. That's the Iowa Core."

The head of ACT said states need to implement those tougher standards nationally.The majority of America's high school graduates are "ill-prepared for success at the next level," according to the latest edition of ACT’s yearly report, The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2013.

“We are encouraged to see efforts already underway to address readiness issues,” said Whitmore. “Individual states are making bold efforts to improve college and career readiness, including strengthening learning standards. The Common Core State Standards, which ACT helped develop, are raising the bar."

Eidahl believes the tougher classes are paying off. The "composite" score for Ottumwa students went from 21.6 in 2012 up to 21.9 in 2013. Though that score is below the state composite score, the superintendent said the district is heading in the right direction.

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