Academy tops state average in ACT scores

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Brookhaven Academy officials credit the enrollment of allstudents in college preparatory classes for the school’s betterthan average ACT scores, which top the state’s average by twopoints.

Over the past 10 years, the private school has maintained anaverage of 20.4 on the important college entrance exam. This yearstudents posted a 20.6 average score.

Although school officials are concerned about the state’s recentranking of 50th nationally in average ACT scores, they believe thepoor ranking can largely be attributed to the high number ofstudents taking the test each year.

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“I would guess over 90 percent of our (BA) students take thetest, possibly even 100 percent,” said BA Headmaster Dan Boyce.

He said the trend of encouraging all students to take the ACT isone most states stray from in order to record higher averages,putting Mississippi at an unfair disadvantage in nationalrankings.

“There are some outstanding school districts in Mississippi thatcompete with and exceed the national score, and we also have somedistricts that historically do poorly. We have a lot of diversityin the state,” said Boyce.

The state’s average ACT score is 18.6, and the basic admissionsrequirement at most non-selective universities is a 17 ACTscore.

“I think it should be the goal of all Mississippians to help allthe districts in our state,” said Boyce.

His philosophy for securing better scores is one that involves achild’s whole family.

“I think education in general starts at home,” he said. “I thinkthose areas that have greater parent involvement in theirchildren’s education are generally going to achieve greater thingsin their education.”

Since schools are often measured by such tests as the ACT, BAteachers are encouraged to help students learn to do well onstandardized tests.

“We have challenged each of our instructors during ourcurriculum evaluation to identify areas of need, both throughcurriculum content and methodology, where we can better prepare ourkids with regard to standardized testing,” said Boyce.

Several other measures are taken at BA to ensure studentsreceive a quality education and perform well on the ACT. Schoolofficials continuously look for ways to make improvements in allareas of the students’ educational experiences.

“I think we have a strong curriculum and that is constantlyassessed and evaluated and adjusted,” said Boyce. “We also competewith other schools throughout the Mississippi Private SchoolAssociation in the area of academics, challenging ourstudents.”

Boyce is proud of the ACT scores over the past decade. Hebelieves the constant evaluation of the school’s curriculum hashelped the scores remain steady.

“The 10-year average has been consistent. There’s never been ayear when it’s been more than a point less (than the average) andone year when it was more than a point higher,” he said.

A low student-teacher ratio has also been a factor in keepingscores above the state average every year, said Boyce.