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Altus students beat state ACT average

ALTUS, Okla._Altus Public Schools has something to celebrate as their students’ most recent ACT scores beat the state average in every category.

The students averaged 22.4 points in reading, 20.5 in English, 20.1 in math and 21.0 in science. Those scores beat the state average by a range of 0.3 points to 0.9 points. The report also showed that since 20-10, the schools have raised all of their scores by at least half a point.

Above all, their reading score stood out the most, which increased a full point over last year and beat the state average by .9 points. It also beat the national average by a full point. Altus teachers have been preparing the students for the ACT since elementary school.

In 2007, the district implemented a reading initiative policy. It includes more reading and even reading interventions for students falling behind. Rita Beisel, the principal at Altus High School, says they are beginning to see the results of that policy.

"We're seeing those kids now that have had those reading interventions and have had more intense reading instruction. Those kids are in high school now, and that's one major factor in why our test scores are higher," Beisel said.

The reading initiative is district-wide, but an emphasis is put on kindergarten through third-grade students. Administrators say focusing on the younger students is important because until about third-grade, you're learning to read, but you're reading to learn after that.

Cindy Allen, the curriculum director for the district, says teachers throughout the district deserve credit for the increase in scores.

"Everybody has a part in that, because we have to give them that early, good foundation in order for them to continue to grow as students, and grow academically," Allen said.

The district has also worked with the ACT organizers to provide one test per year on the high school campus. This year, it's scheduled for September 29.

Typically, the students have to go to Western Oklahoma State College to take the test, which could cause the students to do poorly.

"You go into an environment where you are uncomfortable or you're uneasy, you have that nervousness. That's going to take away from a good test taking environment," Allen said.

The students taking the test this year would have been in third-grade when the initiative was put into place. Being the first group to be involved in that emphasized group has administrators excited and ready to keep them going.

On a national scale, Altus Public Schools also beat the average scores in English, science and the overall composite.

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