Students at Wauwatosa East and West high schools performed better than state averages on the ACT exam last spring.

Per state guidelines, all public high school 11th-graders had to take to the ACT exam in spring 2015, said Wauwatosa East High School Principal Nick Hughes in an email.

The 2014-15 composite score for public school juniors who took the ACT was 20, according to Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction statistics.

The average composite score on the ACT for juniors at Wauwatosa East High School was 22.5, while juniors at Wauwatosa West High School scored 20.3.

The ACT exam is scored on a scale of one to 36 and consists of five subject area tests including English, reading, writing, mathematics and science.

'What an opportunity for our students,' said State Superintendent Tony Evers in a statement last month. 'Taking the ACT exposes young people to the expectations for college and careers and may prompt those who weren't considering further education beyond high school to finish strong and take the leap into higher education and training.'

For the 2015 statewide graduating class, 46,738 students — or about 73 percent of all graduating seniors — took the ACT and had a composite score of 22.2, according to the DPI.

During the 2014-15 school year, the average ACT score among all students taking the test at Wauwatosa East High School was 24.1, according to the DPI.

The average ACT score of all students taking the test at Wauwatosa West High School was 23.3, according to the DPI.

The DPI cautioned against comparing between statewide averages and any given graduating class average, saying the differences in number of students, the multiple times graduates may have taken the ACT and the fact that many graduates may take the test during their final year of high school, as opposed to earlier, make comparisons between statewide and graduating class ACT results suspect.

Preparing for the test

Hughes said Wauwatosa East High School offers a number of ACT preparation activities for its students.

'In some classes, teachers are routinely using old ACT questions and activities with the classes to practice the content and skills,' he said. 'The school district developed and offers a summer school course for ACT preparation.'

The principal said school counselors and a career center coordinator host free practice test sessions on Saturdays, using retired ACT tests. Staff members simulate the testing conditions and score the multiple choice to give an estimated score.

In the past, the school has used an outside company, Midas Education, to hold a test prep class for students. And, school staff directs students and families to various online practice tests and resources that can be found on Wauwatosa East High School's website under the 'Learning Express Library' link.

'I do believe that the test prep activities have helped students to perform,' Hughes said. 'Having a range of methods helps to reach a larger group of students with their needs.'

Tosa West Principal Frank Calarco said students at his school can take a six-week preparation class, offered twice a year.

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