Recent ACT report disturbing

A report this week by college testing service ACT was frightening and should have school officials across the nation re-examining their courses and ability to teach students.

According to the ACT data, only 25 percent of high school graduates are prepared to succeed in college based on their poor reading, math, English and science test results.

And for black high school graduates, ACT says the numbers are even worse with only 5 percent ready for life after leaving high school.

Student test scores have continued to drop, with ACT officials attributing some of the downturn to updated standards and a greater number of students taking the ACT test, including some with no intention of attending college.

If the trend makes you stop and ponder the education system, consider this:

“Under ACT’s definition, a young adult is ready to start college or trade school if he or she has the knowledge to succeed without taking remedial courses. Success is defined as the student’s having a 75 percent chance of earning a C grade and a 50 percent chance of earning a B, based on results on each of the four ACT subject areas, which are measured on a scale from 1 to 36 points.

“Of all ACT-tested high school graduates this year, 64 percent met the English benchmark of 18 points. In both reading and math, 44 percent of students met the readiness threshold of 22 points. In science, 36 percent scored well enough to be considered ready for a college biology course, or 23 points.

“Only 26 percent of students met the benchmarks for all four sections of the ACT test.

“About 69 percent of test takers met at least one of the four subject-area standards. That means 31 percent of all high school graduates who took the ACT were not ready for college coursework requiring English, reading, math or science skills,” according to an AP article.

The real question apparently facing school systems across the nation is how to improve students’ knowledge in reading, math, English and science without taking a cookie-cutter approach that may or may not serve the greatest number of students but satisfies government mandates.


The News and Sentinel had three West Virginia State Police sergeants and a private in the office Wednesday to discuss a more open relationship between the state police and the media, which was fantastic to hear.

Apparently, the new state police superintendent believes the media can help the state police by quelling untruthful rumors pertaining to crimes and incidents, which not only will benefit the public but also improve the image of the state police.

It was interesting to hear from the sergeants of their problems getting information from the state medical examiner’s office, which over the last few years has done its best to thwart the release of any information to the public in a timely manner. Some have said the office is reluctant to release information because of legal liability and mishandling of cases in the past.

It was frightening, though, to have the sergeants explain they too often wait for obituary information to be published, instead of getting timely information from the state medical examiner’s office.

The state medical examiner’s office needs to re-evaluate its procedures and begin a more open relationship with law enforcement and the media.

In essence, it was a very open discussion with the sergeants and one I wish we had had years ago. For the sake of the public, I hope the more open relationship carries through so we all can rely on verifiable information instead of social media rumor and its distortion.

Contact Jim Smith at