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Gwinnett ACT scores improve

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gwinnett students continue to show steady improvement on the ACT, school system officials announced Wednesday.

In Gwinnett, last year's test-takers posted an average composite score of 22.3 out of a possible 36, compared to 20.7 for the state and 21 for the nation, setting a new record for the system's highest-ever composite score and improving on the previous year's scores in all areas.

A comparison between the 2009 and 2010 results shows an increase in Gwinnett's composite score from 22.1 to 22.3. State averages also showed some improvement, with Georgia's students moving from 20.6 to 20.7. Nationally, scores went down slightly from 21.1 to 21.

Additionally, more Gwinnett County Public Schools students took the ACT than ever before. This past year, 3,586 students took the test, up from 3,179 students in 2009, officials said.

"We have seen an 11 percent increase in the number of GCPS students taking the ACT and improved results in all five scoring areas," said Dale Robbins, the school system's associate superintendent for teaching and learning. "This is a clear demonstration of the positive results achieved when students engage in a rigorous program of instruction framed by high expectations for achievement.

"We are especially proud of the increases in mathematics, which reflect the district's focus on integration, application and problem solving. This type of challenging approach grounded in critical thinking enhances retention of essential concepts assessed on the ACT."

Likewise, Buford High School's average composite score rose to 22, principal Banks Bitterman said. Records show the high school's 2009 composite score was 21.5.

Bitterman noted that more of his students take the SAT. In fact, only about 40 students took the ACT last year. Still, he said he's proud of the performance improvement.

"I'm just very excited about all the hard work that my faculty and staff and students are doing," he said.

The ACT is a test used by colleges and universities to predict how well students will perform at the college level. Students are encouraged to take the ACT as well as the SAT college admission exam to provide a broad range of information for college admissions counselors.

School-level results were not available Wednesday.