Upper Arlington High School students set a new school standard earlier this year in their preparation for higher education.

Upper Arlington High School students set a new school standard earlier this year in their preparation for higher education.

Statistics recently released by the ACT (American College Testing) examination program show that in 2011, UAHS students outstripped the state average in all four areas of the standardized test. While doing so, they also set record high average scores for UAHS in all four areas.

Principal Kip Greenhill said the results are a compliment to both the students and the school's faculty.

"I think one thing that's noteworthy, if you take a look at our students' scores over the last several years, those scores keep improving to the level of record highs," Greenhill said. "This is an established school, and for us at this stage to still be setting records

"On the composite scores, we're seeing two years in a row of record highs. We're seeing a sustained pattern of student learning improvement."

According to the report prepared for the district by the ACT program, 366 district students (92,313 statewide) took the ACT exam this year. Upper Arlington students averaged scores of 25.5 in the English portion (21.1 statewide); 26.4 in mathematics (21.5 statewide); 25.7 in reading (22.1 statewide); 25.1 in science (21.8 statewide); with a composite score of 25.8 (21.8 statewide).

Those scores indicate that most UA district students are well prepared for college courses: The ACT program established that if students score above a certain benchmark, they have a strong chance of succeeding in college classes. Those benchmarks are a score of 18 in English composition, 22 in mathematics, 21 in reading, and 24 in science.

Greenhill said the strong scores may be a result of two factors - students enrolling in more advanced classes at the high school, and teachers doing homework of their own.

"It's hard to measure how much anything impacts student learning, but in the last two years we've been getting more students enrolled in our advanced courses, specifically AP (Advanced Placement) and IB (International Baccalaureate) classes," Greenhill said. "This past year, 84 percent of our seniors have taken one of those classes. Five years ago, we had less than 40 percent taking them.

"The other thing that is happening is that every Thursday, our teachers meet, organized by their subject area, and they are using test data to discuss what they're doing in the classroom. We're not teaching to the test, we're talking about what things are the most effective instruction techniques, and we're using data to drive that."

Greenhill said that most district students take the ACT exam in the spring of their junior year. That way, if the student isn't pleased with his or her result, there is still time to take the exam again before college applications are due during their senior year.

About 70 percent of district students take both the ACT and SAT exams, with just over 90 percent of district graduates going on to college, Greenhill said.

He said the district's students should be proud of their academic achievements, and that their teachers should also be congratulated.

"I think this is a reinforcement of the work that our faculty does," he said. "I do think this indicates the work our teachers have put forth to give our kids the best possible education they can deliver."

lrice@thisweeknews.com