MHS provides students with opportunity to improve ACT score

Julianna Poe, Sports Editor

Manhattan High had its first experience hosting a Pre-ACT — funded by the Kansas State Department of Education  last week. 398 freshmen and counting participated in the testing.

“I think what’s important to note [is] this course is not reported to colleges for the Pre-ACT,” Director of Secondary Education Dr. Jeanne Disney said. “It’s truly a practice opportunity for students so there’s no pressure or stress related to that.”

By providing this testing to the freshmen, the district hopes to give them an opportunity to practice the testing format and learn where their strengths are and what needs attention in advance. Students can find resources to study with on Naviance, which can prepare them for the ACT their junior year.

In 2019, MHS seniors had average scores in all four content areas — English, math, reading and science — at around 23, each exceeding the state averages. In addition, their average composite score — which was also 23 — exceeded the national average of 20.8.

According to principal Michael Dorst, Manhattan High’s 2020 seniors’ ACT average scores are exciting because there was a large turnout of those who took the test. Last year, the KSDE funded the ACT for the juniors, and those students who had not yet completed the testing were signed up and “strongly encouraged” to take it. However, they were allowed to opt-out.

“If we have a large portion of students opt-out of taking [the ACT], we really aren’t getting a true picture of how well Manhattan High School’s performing,” Dorst said. “We are … not trying to protect our high composite score, compared to the state average. We’re trying to get a true understanding of a composite score that is a clear picture of all of our students.”

In addition to funding the Pre-ACT for freshmen and ACT for juniors, the KSDE will also pay for the WorkKeys testing for all juniors this year. The overarching goal is to prepare students for their post-secondary plans and define where Manhattan High needs to focus to improve their education.

“Manhattan High School has been interested in maintaining our programs to not just what the industry is saying is needed, but also, … what students are interested in,” Dorst said. “We’re trying to align not just high ACT scores but experience in programs that we haven’t met yet.”