ACT composite scores
National average: 21 (out of 36)
State average: 20.7
Chestatee High School: 22, taken by 41 students
East Hall High School: 17.8, taken by 22 students
Flowery Branch High School: 20.1, taken by 73 students
Gainesville High School: 20.8, taken by 81 students
North Hall High School: 21, taken by 99 students
Johnson High School: 20.5, taken by 20 students
West Hall High School: 21.1, taken by 28 students
State scores on the college entrance ACT exam inched up this year, but local school officials aren't really paying attention.
On Tuesday, the 2010 ACT report shows the state's composite score was 20.7, up from 20.6 last year. The national average composite score was 21, down from 21.1.
"Georgia continues to see a steady rise in ACT scores, even when the national average score declined," Gov. Sonny Perdue said. "I'm especially proud that the curriculum enhancements that Georgia has instituted are resulting in more of our students meeting the ACT standard of college and career readiness."
About 44 percent of Georgia's 2010 graduating seniors took the four-subject test on a scale from 0 to 36. Georgia's students tied for 34th in the nation, up from 40th in 2009.
Gainesville and Hall County school officials aren't necessarily equating the small bump to a jump in college readiness.
"From 2006 to now, we have doubled the amount of kids taking the ACT," said Kay Holleman, a Gainesville High School counselor. "The counseling department is encouraging all kids trying to attend college to take both the ACT and the SAT, and we don't limit any of our kids from taking the tests, even if they're not sure whether they want to go to a four-year or two-year school that requires it."
Counselors like Holleman are basing college-readiness on the actual college acceptance rate.
"We look at the scores, but that's not the important thing," she said. "What we look at is if the students got into a college and were they ready for that college. This is just part of the entrance application, so it's not ‘oh my gosh, our scores are this.'"
Counselors are also waiting to see how students scored on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests.
"Our goal is to get as many students ready for college courses as we can, so we do look at those results, and that helps with the next year," she said. "We encourage students to try those classes if they are ready."
Though ACT scores are up, officials are waiting for the SAT report that comes out Sept. 13, which has been the traditionally prominent college entrance exam given in Georgia.
"When the SAT and ACT started, the SAT was given to students east of the Mississippi, and the kids on the west took the ACT," Holleman explained. "Two companies were vying for students, but now you won't find any college that doesn't take both scores."
The SAT is still prevalent in Georgia, with sophomores and juniors practicing with the PSAT test. Although a preliminary test exists for the ACT, it isn't administered in Georgia schools.
"Both are good tests, so it depends on which type the student does better on," Holleman said. "We encourage juniors to take both in the spring and then find out which one they feel more comfortable with and take it again as a senior."
At the state level, State Schools Superintendent Brad Bryant pointed out the average composite score for African-American testers was 17.4, compared with 16.9 nationally.
Also, Georgia's Hispanic students pulled in a 20.1 composite score, compared with 18.6 nationally.
About 24 percent of the state's students met or surpassed all four of the benchmarks for college English, reading, math and science, which is up from 23 percent last year.
However, the numbers still show that three in four test takers will need remedial help in at least one subject to succeed in college.
This fall, ACT will issue a report that examines the current status of college and career readiness in the U.S. based on the new Common Core State Standards, which were adopted by the Georgia board of education in July and will be implemented in classrooms in fall 2011.