Principals Push Student Success through ACT Prep
School’s out for summer, but Campbell County high school principals are still hard at work. Three of the four secondary principals attended this week’s school board meeting to explain how they plan to get every student in the district college or career ready.
For Gib Ostheimer and Chad Bourgeois, it was their first year in the district as principals at Thunder Basin and Campbell County high schools, respectively.
“We’re in the business of handing out diplomas,” Bourgeois told the board, stressing the need to promote the importance of graduating, regardless of the student’s future plans.
In addition to increasing the graduation rate, the district principals are also working on preparing students to take the ACT test, which is a major component both in college acceptance and scholarship opportunities.
“We don’t often ask kids to do that mental marathon,” said Ostheimer of the ACT practice test days. “So just for them to experience the whole thing is important.”
This year, CCHS and TBHS both administered the practice ACT test in March, which both principals agree was not enough turnaround time for students to get their results and refocus their efforts on areas that need improvement.
Due to the number of students enrolled at Westwood, every student takes a practice ACT, according to Principal Kelly Morehead. Students at the school use a prep period they call “Dog House” to check in with school staff and focus their study efforts where it’s needed most.
The secondary principals agree that they all have a great working relationship, and the students are starting to realize that no matter which school, the principals are on the same page when it comes to putting student success at the top of their priority list.
Ostheimer shared with the board that research has shown the most impactful influence on ACT prep is rigorous coursework in the classrooms, which he sees teachers threading daily into their lesson plans.
“We need to create a culture that says this is a value,” said Bourgeois, “and it’s a value no matter what you think you’re going to do in the future. Because it’s about not closing a door.”
In 2017-18, the statewide average composite ACT score was 19.5. For Campbell County School District #1, it was 18.6. Broken down by school, CCHS averaged 17.7, TBHS averaged 19.5, Westwood averaged 16.4, and Wright averaged 19.4.
According to ACT.org, the national average composite score for 2017 was 21.
Wright Principal Kirby Baer was unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting.
Bourgeois said although his school was close to the state average, he doesn’t wake up happy with being average.
The principals all agree that the time spent in the classroom on a daily basis is the best time to make an impact on student performance.
“Every day we see that we see something, we act, so we can catch those learning gaps while they’re really small,” Osheimer told the board. “That’s a quick fix.”