ST. GEORGE — Utah Education Association representative Amy Barton reported that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a negative impact on local K-12 students at the Oct. 12 meeting of the Washington County Board of Education.
With most kids back at school, the Washington County School District is edging closer to normalcy, according to Barton, who is also a teacher at Coral Canyon Elementary School. She said the district is experiencing a high number of absences among both teachers and students.
“We want this to be a normal school year. It’s not a normal school year,” Barton said. “Kids disappear for 10 days. . . .whether they’re gone on quarantine or because they are ill, it is challenging.”
Amid such difficulties, the WCSD is celebrating a victory. A recent triumph, announced at the October 12 board meeting, found local schools sharing in a statewide win.
The Utah State Board of Education has announced that average composite American College Test entrance exam scores in the state rose from 20.2% for the Class of 2020 to 20.6% for students in the Class of 2021.
ACT composite scores are based on students’ average results on sub-tests in math, science, reading and English. Utah’s improvement is in direct contrast to a nationwide trend that saw U.S. students’ average composite scores fall from 20.6% to 20.3% in the same period.
Washington County students’ ACT numbers reflected the state’s upward shift.
Students take the ACT in spring of their junior year. This way, their scores are ready for when they submit college applications, generally due the following November and December. The timeline also gives students who are disappointed in their ACT scores time to retake the test up to 12 times. It’s common for students to take the ACT 2-3 times, often scoring considerably better after re-testing.
In 2020, juniors at Washington County schools took the ACT just in the nick of time. Schools closed two weeks later amid the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Scores showed a small but significant boost from 2019 in all subjects except reading, where numbers rested at an identical 20.1%. The class of 2021’s average scores in other areas were 19.8% in math, up from 19.5% among the class of 2020; 20.2% in science, up from 20%; and 18.7% in English, up from 18.5%.
Utah schools also fared relatively well in terms of the number of students taking the exam. Statewide, there was a dip of 11 percent of students in the class of 2021 who took the ACT, according to the Utah State Board of Education. On the national level, the number of students taking the ACT fell by 22 percent.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson said in a press release that ACT scores for the class of 2021 in Utah are something to be proud of. “The great news of our ACT results in a reflection on the students, teachers, and parents who made this happen through their commitment to education,” she said
For more information on taking the ACT, visit the ACT website.
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