Newton Kansan

Newton USD 373 is bucking a state trend — and in a good way.

Over the past five years the school has not only remained stable with composite scores on the annual ACT exam, but improved slightly.

"We have stayed pretty constant over the past five years in our student's performance," said superintendent Deb Hamm. "There are hills and valleys along the way in content specific tests, but overall it has been very consistent."

Newton's composite score was 220 in 2009. The most recent score was 22.3. Last year 150 students from Newton High School took the exam. The average composite score for the state decreased during the same span.

The percentage of Kansas high school graduates meeting college readiness benchmarks in all areas measured on the ACT college entrance exam increased for the third year in a row, while the average composite score decreased slightly.

Overall, the average composite score in the state was 21.8, down a tenth of a percent from 21.9 in 2012, but still trending ahead of the national average, which declined from 21.1 in 2012 to 20.9 in 2013.

Hamm said with the creation of Common Core Standards, scores on the ACT will likely increase over time.

"ACT as a company was at the table when Common Core, career ready standards were developed," Hamm said. "That is what we are striving for, so I think we can take from that there our students will need to be prepared for a different way in college and in careers."

The number of Kansas high school graduating seniors participating in the 2013 ACT test set an all-time record high, but represented just 75 percent of Kansas high school graduating seniors, which is a decrease from 81 percent in 2012 and 79 percent in 2011.

In comparing Kansas’ 2013 ACT college readiness scores with those states that also have 75 percent or more of its graduating high school students taking the ACT exam, Kansas’ average composite score of 21.8 ranked second highest. South Dakota reported a composite score of 21.9 and Nebraska reported a composite score of 21.5.

"We are pleased with the increased number of Kansas high school graduates now taking the ACT," said education commissioner Dr. Diane DeBacker. "This gives us a more complete picture of the college readiness of our students and helps inform state and local education decisions in Kansas. Our students continue to score ahead of the national average and our goal is to continue to increase the number of children meeting and exceeding established benchmarks."