Columbia students beat the averages for ACT and AP Exams

Wednesday, August 18, 2010 | 6:05 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Students in Columbia Public Schools outscored their peers in Missouri and in the rest of the nation on both Advanced Placement exams and the ACT test for the 2009-10 academic year.

Columbia students had a slight decline in ACT scores compared to 2008-09, falling from 23.9 to 23.3 out of a possible 36. Scores, however, once again surpassed the state and national ACT averages for all four sections of the test: English; math; reading comprehension; and science.

Overall, students scored 1.7 points higher than the state average and beat the national average by 2.3 points. The widest disparity for a single section was in math, where local students outscored their counterparts in Missouri and the rest of the country by 2.0 points.

African-American students in Columbia also outscored their peers. Their composite scores increased from 18 to 18.2 between 2009 and 2010, compared to 16.9 nationally and 17.2 for Missouri in 2010.

“We’ve got families and students in Columbia who understand the importance of challenging themselves with a rigorous curriculum,” said Sally Beth Lyon, chief academic officer for Columbia Public Schools.

Throughout the past three years, 16 to 19 percent of students in Columbia Public Schools have taken at least one Advanced Placement exam, compared to 8 to 9 percent statewide, the release said. In 2010, 704 Columbia students took Advanced Placement exams, while 676 took the exam in 2009.

The Advanced Placement tests are taken at the end of the school year and scored on a scale of one to five, with scores of three and above generally qualifying students for college credit or more advanced college classes. Eighty-five percent of the students' scores exceeded this threshold. Twenty-nine percent of students scored a five this year, up from 22 percent in 2009.

Columbia students also surpassed the international average for Advanced Placement by almost a full point on some of the most widely taken tests in the area, including English language and composition, psychology, calculus and world history, according to the release.

The district did not include national averages for Advanced Placement test scores in its release, and the numbers were not immediately available.

“In education, we can never declare victory,” Lyon said. “However, we are pleased with student performance and hope to improve in the future.”

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