While still significantly higher than the state average, Laramie High School’s average ACT score dropped to 20.9 with this past year’s 11th grade class, according to recently released data from the Wyoming Department of Education.
The score is only the second time in the last seven years that LHS’s 11th graders averaged less than 21.
Before 2018-2019, the school’s 11th graders had averaged 21.5 in the two prior years.
One student who definitely didn’t contribute to that drop was high schooler Sam Miller, who scored a perfect 36 on the ACT this year. Only about 0.2% of all high schoolers who take the test earn a 36.
Among U.S. high school graduates in the class of 2018, only 3,741 of the more than 1.9 million high schoolers who took the ACT earned a score of 36.
The biggest drop in LHS’s average score this year came on the science portion of the test. The average on that portion dropped from 21.7 to 20.9 in one year.
The newly released data comes as the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees voted in August to set a minimum ACT score of 17 for admission.
Previously, students with at least a grade point average of 2.5 would be admitted — albeit with remedial classes required — without needing a minimum ACT score.
To be guaranteed admission to the university without being required to take remedial classes, however, students need a minimum ACT score of 21 and a minimum GPA of 3.0. That requirement has not been changed.
Superintendent Jubal Yennie told the Laramie Boomerang that there’s no reason to think this year’s test scores are any more than a “one-year blip.”
However, he also thinks there are things the district could do to significantly increase the district’s average.
In 2018-2019, the district started using a new piece of software, the Naviance Course Planner, which has eighth- and ninth-graders developing four-year plans.
High schoolers also have access to an ACT preparation course through the Naviance software, and Yennie said he’d like to see greater integration of that ACT prep at the high school.
“It’s as effective as any other prep work,” Yennie said. “It’s not the primary way we could increase scores, but it’s the vehicle that we have right now.”
Currently, while some classroom teachers might expose their students to the software, LHS counselor Kim Dale said “I don’t think anyone’s using it directly as part of their curriculum.”
“It’s not a mandatory component,” she said.
This past year, the state average for the ACT was 19.5, the same exact average as in 2017-2018. Before that year, the state average had been at least 19.7 for the five years.
This past year, only school districts in Kemmerer, Afton, Lander, Dubois, Thermopolis, Pinedale, Sheridan and Jackson had a higher average ACT score than Albany County School District No. 1.