ACT scores for Webster Parish have improved somewhat from the 2014-15 school year.

The Louisiana Department of Education released the ACT scores for 2016, and the composite score has increased .7 points to 18.8 over the 2015 score of 18.1. Although Webster Parish showed an improvement, it still is not at the state average of 19.5. The state average decreased over the last year from 21.5.

In 2012, the Board of Education and Secondary Education implemented the ACT Now law, which requires every student in the public high school system to take the ACT.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dan Rawls says these scores are not surprising, but he is proud of the improvement in scores for Webster Parish. He says the reason for the increase is because each high school in the parish offers an entire course on ACT preparation.

“We implemented Educational Best Practices,” he said. “We did not take the chance of the child on his own going through the coursework and then taking the test. We put ACT classes in our high schools. Kids are actually learning how to take the test, how it’s written, its format, but more than that, it’s the objectives of each subject that we know are going to be test questions. Many of our kids are getting a leg up, because they are specifically being taught items we know are going to be on the test.”

He believes the drop in the state score has to do with the students who don’t score as well on the test, and there’s a reason for that.

“They’re not taking that test with fidelity,” he said. “They’re sitting down, taking a pencil, filling in the bubbles and they’re handing it to you. They’re not going to college, and they’re not taking the test. The kids that are trying really, really hard to score the best they can so they can get into college. It happens all over the state, and we’re no different.”

He says because all students are required to take the test, the numbers are skewed. Students are required to make a certain score on the ACT in order to get into college. The scores of students trying to get into college are going to be much higher than the scores of those who do not want to go to college, he said.

DOE says Louisiana students still face challenges, namely students are required to repeat coursework when they get to college because they have yet to master fundamental skills.

“When you blend those scores, they’re skewed,” Rawls said. “You have to understand the dynamics of kids and school and testing.”