Source: Sherman Publications

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My Way
My Way
If the ACT is so important, why isnít Oxford improving?

by CJ Carnacchio

July 13, 2011

"We need to get our average composite score on the ACT to at least a 21 (or) 22. That, to me, is a minimum . . . We're going to make a more concerted effort to get our kids' scores up on the ACT . . . I'm not saying 21 is the goal. I don't want to be lower than that. I want to get higher than that."

Those were Oxford Superintendent Dr. William Skilling's words in July 2009.

At the time, the district's average composite ACT score was 19.4 and that included juniors from both OHS and Crossroads for Youth's alternative school.

The average composite ACT score for just Oxford High School was 20 back then.

Two years later, the composite ACT score for the district is still 19.4, while OHS remains at 20.

In 2010, the year in between, the district's average score went up to 19.6 while the high school composite went down to 19.9.

My question is where is this "concerted effort to get our kids' scores up on the ACT"?

I see tons of emphasis on all things Chinese. I see lots of hoopla about fake blue grass. I see tremendous amounts of time and effort being poured into marketing, glossy publications and creating just the right image.

I also see that the average composite ACT scores are higher in surrounding school districts such as Clarkston (21), Lake Orion (21.7) and Brandon (20.3).

Even when you take out the alternative education students, OHS' average of 20 is still lower than Clarkston HS (21.5), Lake Orion HS (21.7) and Brandon HS (20.5).

What I don't see is this "concerted effort" in Oxford and frankly, it worries me as it should really worry every parent out there. You see unlike the MEAP and MME tests, which the education community tends to look down on and always tries to dismiss the results of, the ACT is extremely important and extremely accurate.

But you don't have to take just my word for it.

"I'm going to be quite honest with you, I don't really care about the MEAP scores as much as I care about the ACT," said Skilling in July 2009. "And the reason I care more about the ACT (is) because it's a true norm reference test that's valid and a true predictor of future success."

"We can compare ourselves to kids all across the country (with the ACT)," Skilling said. "With the MEAP, you can't compare yourself with anybody except in the state of Michigan. It's not a very good predictor of future success."

"What's really important to us is that ACT because that's what determines scholarships; that determines what students have access to in terms of what schools they can get into or not," Skilling explained.

Two years ago, Skilling explained he wanted Oxford to have an average composite score of 21 at the very least because that, along with a good GPA, would get a student into any what he called "B-type" university such as Western Michigan, Grand Valley State, Oakland University and Mid-American Conference (MAC) schools.

"I want to make sure that every student who graduates from Oxford has the ability to be able to go to a (Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) school, a MAC school, at least," he said.

My reporter, Andrew Moser, has submitted some questions to the school board concerning the latest MME and ACT scores and what is going to be done to improve them.

Maybe, just maybe, instead of focusing so much time and energy on setting up schools in China and bringing Chinese students here, Oxford should be focusing on increasing that average composite ACT score.

Maybe Oxford should start taking care of Oxford.