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NSU concludes ACT prep program at Fort Gibson

(Tahlequah, Okla.)--Following a trial ACT preparation program at Fort Gibson High School, funded with assistance from AT&T, staff at Northeastern State University have concluded an initial analysis of its effects.

The program implemented an ACT preparation camp with the cooperation of Fort Gibson Public Schools. Goals included the improvement of ACT scores, encouraging high school students to attend college and providing information about the ACT to students, parents and staff at FGHS.

“Northeastern shares many of the same concerns as parents and students about the ACT,” said Jerry Cook, interim executive director of university relations at NSU. “All were interested in the exam and parents wanted to know what they could do to help. Parents knew the test was important, but a further significance is that higher ACT scores can equal cash for college.”

NSU developed an enhanced program to combine academic training and ACT test preparation skills with ongoing tracking and analyzing of student achievement levels. Findings included:

  • Eight of 14 students with pre-camp ACT scores improved them by an average of 2.75 points.
  • NSU was the top selection of students naming institutions to which to report their ACT results. Seventeen students requested NSU receive their scores, while 14 requested Oklahoma State University and six requested the University of Oklahoma.
  • Through Compass Diagnostic Testing, an untimed computerized exam, reading and writing scores improved. Writing assessments increased 4 percent in seven of eight categories and reading scores improved 33.9 percent over all categories.
  • Students became more aware of the importance of ACT scores and how they can translate into more scholarship awards.
  • Parents were better informed when provided direct information about the ACT through letters, phone calls and meetings.

“Communicating directly with the parents was better than asking the students to pass along information,” said Ethan Hayman, a Collinsville junior who with Fort Gibson sophomore Randy Cox served as student research assistants. “By high school, students are becoming more independent and ask their parents’ help less frequently.”

Though many students indicated a preference to attend NSU, Cook said the university sought to be an informational resource for students attending any college.

“I’m not aware of any institution ever doing something like this before,” he said. “I think any university could implement this program at any high school anywhere. We tried to make an impact on student achievement and success.”

Cook thanked Fort Gibson Public Schools for “enthusiastic cooperation.”

“Superintendent Derald Glover is visionary and a great leader for the community,” Cook said. “Fort Gibson opened its entire school system and offered us every opportunity to engage students, staff and parents.”

AT&T contributed $10,000 to NSU to assist in the funding of the program. The contribution was funded by the AT&T Foundation, the philanthropic arm of AT&T.

“We are grateful to AT&T for the grant that allowed us to do this,” Cook said. “They were very interested in this program and its results, as was ACT Inc.”

The ACT initiative at Fort Gibson was part of NSU’s Community Outreach and Recruitment Effort. Faculty and staff volunteer for CORE teams and assist the university with initiatives to increase enrollment, alumni connection and parental involvement.

CORE goals are to increase enrollment through connection with prospective students, recognize the achievements of students, alumni and community members, increase institutional exposure and increase financial support and the engagement of alumni and parents with the university.

Cook said assessments will continue though the CORE program is completed.

“The college journey for these students impacted by CORE is just beginning,” he said. “We are anxious to have reports on their progress and ultimately the news that they have earned their college degree and launched a successful career.” 

Published: 6/4/2012 1:37:59 PM

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