Kalispell students score well on college readiness exams

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Flathead and Glacier high school ACT and SAT scores show students are college-ready, but school administrators would like to see more students taking the tests.

Local students who opted to take the voluntary college entrance examinations this year are outperforming students across Montana and the United States, school officials said.

But while test scores are high, the number of students taking the exams is decreasing, and that concerns school officials.

Out of 563 seniors in Flathead and Glacier high schools this school year, 156 students took the ACT and 240 took the SAT. Of last year’s 568 seniors, 167 took the ACT and 251 took the SAT.

Dan Zorn, assistant superintendent for Kalispell Public Schools, would like to see those numbers boosted.

“We don’t have enough kids taking the SAT and ACT,” Zorn said. “It’s a number that should be higher in terms of looking at our student population.” 

Some students opt to take one test or both.

The ACT exam is a multiple-choice test covering English, mathematics, reading and science, with an optional writing component. Subject areas are individually scored on a scale of 1 to 36. A composite score is an average of the four areas.

Overall, Glacier High School’s ACT composite score was 22.3, down from last year’s 23.1. Flathead High School’s ACT composite score was 23.7, up from last year’s 23.2.

Both scores are above the state’s composite score of 22.1 and the national composite score of 21.1.

The SAT exam involves short-answer and multiple-choice questions in critical reading, writing and math. Each section is scored on a 200- to 800-point scale for a possible total of 2,400.

The average combined score for critical reading, math and writing for Glacier students was 1,559, down from last year’s 1,544.

Flathead’s average combined score this year was 1,594, up from 1,566 last year.

This compares to the state SAT average of 1,592 and a national average score of 1,500.

For students who take the SAT, there is a PSAT exam that helps determine SAT and college readiness. The voluntary test is offered to sophomores and juniors.

Both schools surpassed recommended scores by the College Board, the company that makes the PSAT and SAT, in nearly every subject area.

Test results provide information about a student’s strengths and weaknesses. This helps students determine what subject areas they should focus on more, either by taking certain classes or getting extra help, according to Glacier High School Principal Callie Langhor.

“We make sure they understand their scores so that OK, if you didn’t meet one of these scores, then let’s take a class or two to beef up your college readiness so that when you graduate, you’re ready to go,” Langhor said.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or by email at hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.

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