Monday, September 8, 2014

Oxford High does it again with 27 graduates scoring 30 or higher on ACT; six score 35, two 36

    I wrote back in April that eight Oxford High School students had scored a 35 or 36 on the ACT and thus qualified to be STAR students.
    What I didn't report on was the number scoring 30 or higher. I asked for the information but never got it. The school board recently issued a report showing that 27 OHS students scored 30 or above out of a graduating class of 203.
    That comes out to more than 13 percent scoring a 30 or higher. On a statewide level, 931 students out of 28,481 students taking the ACT scored 30 or higher, or 3.25 percent of test-takers. As best I understand it, in Oxford almost every student took the ACT -- 198 out of 203, or 97.5 percent -- while on a statewide level participation rates were lower. So this makes the Oxford scores all the more impressive. (See state report, HERE. See national report, HERE).
    Here's the breakdown of the top ACT score distribution:
 2 - 36 composite score
 6 - 35 composite score
 1 - 34 composite score
 4 - 33 composite score
 5 - 32 composite score
 5 - 31 composite score
 4 - 30 composite score
     As you can see from the chart above, OHS doesn't have a normal "bell distribution curve." There ought to be a 50- to 60-percent increase in the number of students at each score point below 35, but there isn't. Of course, based on normal score distributions there ought to be a thousand students scoring below 30, but there are only 171. I'd love to have the chance to see the entire OHS score distribution, as I think it would be highly unusual. I suspect Oxford doesn't so much have a bell curve as it does a squiggly line curve.
    Also interesting is that Oxford's numbers for 2014 are almost identical to the numbers for 2013. In 2013 Oxford had 12 National Merit Finalists, eight students with 35 or 36 on the ACT, and 27 students with a 30 or higher on the ACT. The 2014 numbers were identical, except that there was one fewer National Merit Finalist.
    I've mentioned in the past that there is a lot of brain clustering going on around the nation as families with bright children seek out adequate school systems with other bright kids. A friend of mine calls it "bright-flight." And Oxford is adding a dozen or so of these super-bright kids every year.
    Other "bright-flight" clusters include the Madison County School system and St. Andrews School in Jackson. In 2013 11 of Oxford's approximately 225 juniors earned National Merit Semifinalist honors. At Madison Central High School it was about 23 out of 550. Mississippi's top brain-magnet is St. Andrews School in Jackson, where 15 out of about 85 students earned Semifinalist status last year. Of course St. Andrews is both private and selective, so it's not really fair to count them. The same goes for the Mississippi School for Math and Science, where 12 of 120 earned NMSF honors last year. But these kids don't arrive at MSMS until shortly before they take the PSAT.
    High ACT scores like Oxford has had the past two years may not happen annually, but more are in store for the future. My son is in 10th grade this year, and five or six students from his grade earned a 30 or higher on the ACT prior to the start of the school year. Given that many, if not most, Mississippi schools don't have a single student to break the ACT 30 barrier, I'd say that having half a dozen do so prior to their entering 10th grade is pretty impressive.

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