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Oxford High School juniors score far above state average in ACT readiness

With a whole year left to prepare for college, Oxford High School juniors are more prepared for college than other Mississippi juniors, according to recent test results.

Mississippi started administering the ACT test to juniors two years ago to assess how close they were to being able to score high on the test their senior year.

Oxford High Assistant Principal Jeff Clay said Oxford achieved scores well above state averages.

The percentage of juniors at OHS ready for college English was 73 percent, compared to the state average of 44 percent.

Fifty-three percent met the math benchmark, compared to 19 percent across the state. About 49 percent of juniors met or exceeded the benchmark for reading while only 26 percent of juniors across the state met the benchmark.

Forty-two percent met the benchmark in science, compared to the state average of 19 percent.

Thirty-one percent of all OHS juniors met the benchmark in all four areas, with the state average being 11 percent.

A benchmark score is the minimum score needed on an ACT subject-area to indicate a 50 percent chance of getting a B or higher, or a 75 percent chance of getting a C or higher in the corresponding credit-bearing college course.

Most colleges require an 18 or above to be considered for acceptance.

Ole Miss requires a 16 for in-state applications; however, the student may need to take development courses before taking the credited course. Out-of-state students applying for Ole Miss need a 22 on the ACT.

The benchmark for English is 18; math, 22; reading; 22 and science, 23.

“Five years ago we were looking at scores in the senior class where we had only 25 percent who made the benchmark in all four subjects,” Harvey said.

“We had a 6 percent increase and we still have a whole other year with these students to prepare them.”

Clay said some of the increase in scores is due to the implementation of the new ACT prep class for juniors, which was started in the 2014-2015 school year.

“It’s very commendable for the teachers and students,” Clay said.

Oxford’s scores compared to last year raised across the board. In the 2014-2015 school year, 62 percent met the benchmark in English and 42 percent met it for reading, 39 percent met the benchmark for math and 37 percent met it for science.

The average score in English rose from 20.5 in 2014-2015 to 22.7 in 2015-2016.

The state’s average in 2015-2016 in English was 17.6. Reading rose slightly from 21.1 to 21.8, with the state average score being 18.3.

The average score for math in 2014 was 20.2 and rose to 22 in 2015. The state average is 18.

The average score in science at OHS was 20.8 in 2014 and 21.7 in 2015. The state average is 18.6.

The report also broke the scores down by race. White students had an average score in 2015 of 24.6; black students, 18.1; Hispanic, 20.8; Asian, 22.4; and students of two or more races scored 23.6.

Clay said there were 22 students that did not check their race on the test.

“This is evidence we are bridging the gap between races in our junior class and we will continue to work in that direction,” Harvey said.