The following is a press release from Franklin County Schools
Louisburg, N. C. — More than 100 students gathered in Louisburg High Schools’ cafeteria on Monday morning for the school’s first-ever ACT Blitz, a series of events designed to prepare 11th-grade students for the ACT— a nationally administered standardized test that helps colleges evaluate candidates. However, the Blitz is different; unlike most test-prep programs, it isn’t focused on cramming in content to squeak out a few extra points, it’s about changing the culture surrounding the test so that students gain confidence in their abilities.
The Blitz program is mandatory for all LHS juniors and students will participate in four prep sessions throughout the month of February. At the conclusion of the four sessions, the school will administer a mock-ACT based on tests from previous years that have been released publicly by ACT. According to Crystal Taylor-Simon, Assistant Principal at Louisburg High, students will receive a comprehensive one-on-one review of their mock exam and school staff will provide targeted feedback to students focusing on how they can improve their scores.
Taylor-Simon is spearheading the ACT Blitz program at Louisburg High after leading similar programs at Jones Senior High School in Jones County, where she worked as a Curriculum Specialist prior to joining the team at LHS. She says that building the comfort level and confidence of students is one of the most important components of success for students taking the ACT and similar standardized tests.
“Just like any standardized test, the more students are exposed to the ACT, the more comfortable they become with the process,” says Taylor-Simon.
The ACT, which has a scoring index between 1 and 36, is required for all high school juniors in North Carolina, however, students continue to struggle throughout the state, says Taylor-Simon. When she was working in Jones County, the first-year Assistant Principal says she visited Croatan High School in Newport, North Carolina, and their approach changed her perspective.
“Croatan served a different demographic than Jones Senior High School, but their approach to the ACT saw gains in achievement and we brought that back to Jones,” says Taylor-Simon, who noted that after just one year of a Blitz-type program at Jones Senior High, more than 78% of juniors demonstrated positive growth on the ACT.
According to the district’s five-year strategic plan, Our Blueprint, Franklin County Schools has aimed to increase the percentage of students receiving a score of 17 or higher from 55% in 2015 to 70% by 2020. Taylor-Simon and the administrative team at LHS are dedicated to this growth and believe the Blitz program is just one step in that direction.
“I think the biggest impact is their [students] attitude,” she says. “They will go into the test with an ‘I can’ spirit and that’s half the battle.”