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DHS scores low on ACT

Graduates from Dickinson High School scored lower than other schools nationwide on the ACT on average, but the numbers might not be comparing apples to apples.

North Dakota tested 98 percent of all 2011 graduates, whereas 49 percent of graduates were tested nationally.

Overall, DHS students had a composite score of 20.3, which is lower than the national average of 21.1. However, the difference may seem insignificant when testing unlike populations.

Since the 2009-10 school year, juniors in North Dakota have been required to take the ACT or Workkeys assessment, which is not a requirement in other states.

Connie Mittleider, assistant director of the ACT North Dakota Scholarship Program, said states that only test students on the path to higher education skew the results.

"Basically, they are testing the college-bound, those students who need to score for college entrance," she said. "That is not the case here because we have statewide ACT testing for all juniors. We think it is important we know how all our students are performing."

North Dakota scored the second highest, behind Illinois, of the nine states who tested nearly all high school graduates.

Dickinson Public Schools Superintendent Doug Sullivan said he was happy to hear

the state did well when comparing like


"North Dakota has a long-standing tradition of performing very well on a nationwide basis and we are pleased with the results," he said.

DHS scored lower than the North Dakota average in all sub-categories, with the largest gap (0.6) in English. Other categories did not differ more than 0.4.

Dickinson School Board President Kris Fehr said the scores will be taken into account with other measures to make a needs assessment.

"Overall we are comparable with the state, which is good. Now we will look at other measures where students are performing and if actions need to be taken we don't know that yet," she said.

There is a positive correlation between ACT scores and student enrollment in more than core curriculum classes. North Dakota students taking more than the required courses earned an average score of 22.3, which is higher than the national average.

Director of Curriculum and Professional Development Melanie Kathrein said DHS offers many classes outside of the required courses.

"Students have the opportunity to expand their learning beyond core curriculum and take advanced classes in math, science, social studies, language arts, fine arts and foreign language, as well as to have vast experience in vocational classes," she said. "Many of those opportunities help them develop reasoning skills and critical thinking skills which are crucial in the work place and higher education."