On the college entrance ACT exams given to Montana juniors in 2019, Bozeman High School students again had the highest test scores of all the state’s largest AA high schools.

At Bozeman High, the state’s biggest high school, 502 juniors took the test, and they earned a composite score of 22.00.

That was down slightly from last year but still high enough to outperform other AA high schools and to surpass the state average. Those juniors are now in their senior year.

“It’s always exciting to look at what your school is doing and see it at the top of the list,” said Dan Mills, Bozeman High School principal. “Part of education is continuous improvement. We’re always looking” for ways to do better.

Statewide, 9,570 students, or about 95% of all juniors, took the ACT, the Montana Office of Public Instruction reported.

The overall state ACT composite score was 19.6. That was the same as 2018’s score but down from the previous two years.

“These ACT results show that Montana has work to do in preparing our students for success in college and careers, especially in the critical areas of math and English language arts,” Elsie Arntzen, state superintendent, said in a news release last week.

The ACT is the statewide test given to high school juniors for federal reporting purposes, OPI reported, and it’s a tool to gauge whether students are ready for college.

Statewide 32.35% of Montana students tested as ready for college, while 51.2% of Bozeman juniors tested as college-ready.

Researchers have long found that standardized test scores tend to reflect parents’ income and education levels.

Bozeman High students scored 20.99 on English language arts, 21.99 in math and 22.09 in science, all down slightly from last year.

Of Bozeman’s 502 juniors, 330 scored high enough to be eligible for the governor’s Best & Brightest scholarships, 257 were eligible for admission to Montana University System campuses, and 81 were eligible for WUE scholarships.

At other Gallatin County high schools, the composite score was highest at Lone Peak High in Big Sky, where 23 juniors earned a composite score of 22.52.

Belgrade High, which grew this year from a class A to class AA high school, had 216 juniors take the test last school year. They earned a composite score of 20.27, showing a steady increase over the past two years.

Composite scores for Manhattan High’s 63 students were 19.87, for Three Forks’ 50 students 19.06, and West Yellowstone’s 19 students scored 18.37.

Among 15 AA high schools, the ACT composite scores (and the number of students tested) were, in descending order: Bozeman (502 students) 22.00, Missoula Hellgate (277) 21.17, Missoula Sentinel (265) 20.89, Helena High (316) 20.73, Helena Capital (312) 20.58, Kalispell Glacier (304) 20.35, Belgrade High (216) 20.27, Billings West (391) 20.07, Great Falls CM Russell (309) 19.46, Butte High (250) 19.40, Billings Skyview (348) 19.35, Kalispell Flathead (345) 19.30, Billings Senior (368) 19.21, Missoula Big Sky (226) 18.90 and Great Falls High (306) 18.86.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at gails@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2633. Follow her on Twitter @gailnews.

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