Wautoma School Board hears presentation on ACT Improvement Plan

Wautoma High School Math teacher Steven Thayer provided a detailed presentation on the high school’s ACT Improvement Plan during the regular Wautoma Area School Board’s regular meeting on Jan. 8 at Parkside Middle School.

Following a request made at the December meeting regarding how juniors are testing on the ACT, Thayer reached out to WHS Principal Tom Rheinheimer expressing an interest in presenting the ACT Improvement Plan the high school staff has implemented.

The 2015-16 school year was the first time all juniors were required to take the ACT test, even if they were not interested in pursuing a higher education. Based on a scale of 36.0, the composite scores for Wautoma students over the past two years were: 18.0 for 2015-16 and 19.5 for 2016-17.

These averages from the school were below the state average for both years by a few points, but compared well to the other schools within the South Central Conference as well as the surrounding districts.

Understanding the im-portance of the ACT, the teachers began offering Day 5 ACT Prep Courses, a full day “cram” session and in-class ACT prep where individual teachers saw fit with the Class of 2017. The results from that year’s student survey saw many wanted more prep, with an overwhelming number stating the full day cram session was beneficial.

In August 2017, Thayer, along with fellow Math teacher Sierra Steuerwald, Science teacher Andy DeKeyser and English teachers Jacyln Hoffa and Keith Koslowski, created the ACT Improvement Plan. The objective was “to consistently prepare students for the ACT while reinforcing skills and strategies in grades 9-12”, with the goal for all test-takers obtain a minimum Composite Score of 16 in order to achieve a school average of at or above the state average.

Using this plan, teachers have created weekly, ongoing ACT-like prep questions while providing test-taking strategies for their students. On Oct. 4 and Oct. 10, a Mock ACT was held in the students’ core classes and on Feb. 7 the entire junior class will receive ACT Training. Also, throughout the school year, the staff is offering students additional support and ACT Prep online, with the formal test given on Feb. 27 and 28.

Thayer stated the goal for the future is to increase the students comfort levels while taking the test from 37 percent in 2017 to 50 percent. The school is also working on a building-wide model in which Business Education/FACE/PE/Crossroads assist with the Work Keys portion of the ACT.

Finally, Thayer stated that of the 96 current juniors at WHS, 78 tested in all four portions of the Mock ACT, resulting in a composite score of 16.94, with 87.3 percent of students feeling that the simulated testing was worthwhile.

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