Woodward, Okla. —
Woodward High School was recently recognized for making improvements in preparing students for college.
The ACT Southwest Region presented the school with the 2012 College Readiness Award in recognition of significant increases in students' average ACT composite score over the past 5 years while simultaneously increasing the number of students taking the ACT assessment.
"It's quite an accomplishment for us," WHS Principal Kirk Warnick said. "We've been emphasizing the importance of the ACT in our school for the last 5 years. We've been working hard to improve our ACT scores, (and) we've tried to get kids to enroll and be serious and prepared for taking the ACT."
This 5-year improvement was no easy feat, as can be seen by the fact that only 11 percent of Oklahoma high schools that managed to meet the standards required for earning it, according to a letter from ACT Southwest Regional Manager Karen Pennell that accompanied the award.
"It's not without hard work," Warnick said. "Our teachers have worked very hard and diligently to help improve students scores."
The principal said the high school has implemented a number of programs in an effort to better prepare students for the test.
"We started an ACT prep class for junior and seniors about 5 years ago. It's a semester long (course), usually averaging 20 to 25 students a semester. The class consists of practicing on ACT tests from previous years to get better prepared for college readiness," Warnick said. "We also had ACT practice sessions outside the school days in the afternoons which emphasized specific curriculums of the ACT test, such as science or math."
In addition to prep classes, the school has also started hosting more ACT tests as a means of increasing students scores.
"We've started offering more ACT test days at our schools because we feel it's important students take the test in a familiar environment," explained Warnick. "Taking the test in a room where they sit every day and take tests helps keep students more relaxed than they would be taking the test at a different school in a foreign environment."
Not only has Woodward High School increased its ACT test scores over the years, but they've also managed to increase the number of students taking it as well.
"We feel that by making ACT prep more readily available and emphasizing its importance that we stress the significance of the test to students and that makes it more of a priority to them. We think that's helped increase the number of students taking the test," Warnick said.
Despite the appreciation of the award, Warnick stressed that the Woodward High School and its faculty were not doing it for the awards.
"We're not in the teaching business for the pats on the back," he said. "We don't do it for the awards. We're here to teach kids and make sure they're prepared for whatever lay for them beyond high school, whether that be college or the work force. But it is nice to receive recognition for the time and effort that the faculty puts into getting students prepared, so we do appreciate it."