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OHS principal details work to improve student test scores

Over a five-year period, Opp High School’s average ACT score has gone up 1.1 points, and they are now ahead of the state average ACT score.

Principal Aaron Hightower presented the data to the Opp City School Board of Education on Thursday and said that the faculty is hard at work to continue the trend.

“We are on the right track,” Hightower said. “We are working with kids across the board and working at kids at their own skill level.”

The composite average ACT score for Opp for the 2016-2017 school year was 18.9 while the state average score was 18.4. This was the first time since the results have been calculated that Opp High School’s score was higher than the state’s, and Hightower said that is due to the faculty’s strategic teaching.

“We are looking at each kid’s DOK, or depth of knowledge,” Hightower said. “We are focusing on their DOK and teaching these ACT skills in all of their subjects, not just the ACT subjects, because if you are in history class they can still incorporate reading which is on the ACT.”

One matter than concerns Hightower is that there is no buffer for special needs kids on the ACT.

“We have got to work with the special needs kids not only on their grade level, but on their skill level as well,” Hightower said. “We need to get them prepared for every test.”

Hightower said that one way they are improving their ACT scores is investing in the John Baylor “On To College” program.

“We got a really good deal on this program,” Hightower said. “It is usually $6,500 dollars and we got it for $3,500. We just needed to do something, because a lot of our good kids are not getting motivated.”

Baylor’s program is used by more than 425 high schools in 23 states. THe OnToCollege online classes routinely increase an entire high school’s ACT average score 1-3 points and SAT average score 50-200 points.

Along with the program, Hightower has also incorporated “support blocks,” a time during the day where students can get help on their school work.

“This is not an overnight fix,” Hightower said. “But we are working to keep on increasing that number.”