Dora High students increase ACT scores


Dora High School is celebrating an increase in student ACT scores across all subject areas.

Data released by PARCA (Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama) examines the ACT scores of graduating senior classes from 2015-2018. The ACT is used to measure college and career readiness and retention of important concepts.

Dora High students averaged a composite score in 2015 of 17.1, and it had increased to 18.4 in 2018. The school has made the most significant gains of any high school in Walker County Schools on the ACT; furthermore, its graduating seniors in 2018 had the highest ACT composite score compared to other schools in the Walker County system. 

"From 2015 through 2018 we've been able to maintain our scores, and I've been very pleased with that," Dora High Principal Paige Abner said. "We continue to have students that work harder to score higher."

When Abner became principal at Dora High in 2015, she had a very specific vision in mind to help the school's students reach their fullest potential.

"My approach will continue to be accountability, having the students take responsibility and talking to them from the time they come in the door about their future," she said. "Our goal is for all of our students to be college and career ready when they graduate, and being successful on that test is part of it."

Abner also credits higher ACT scores to an enhanced focus on classroom instruction and an ACT preparation class.  

"We're very thorough. We're not just teaching the test. We're teaching test strategies that can help them in any class," Abner said.

PARCA data shows Dora students increased their English scores on the ACT from 16.1 to 18.2; math scores from 16.3 to 17.2; reading scores from 18.1 to 19.2; and science scores from 17.8 to 18.4 — all in the span of four years.

The highest students can make on the ACT is 36, and some of Dora High School's students have scored 30 or greater on the ACT.

"We take great pride in our board of education recognizing those kids that work so hard," Abner said.

Dora High's faculty is always looking for ways to improve ACT scores, and Abner doted on the school's teachers for their dedication to after school tutoring and other activities that increase retention.

Students at Dora High scored well across all subgroups as well, which measure race, poverty and gender.

"That is just an absolute tribute to this culture, to this community. We support each other," Abner said. "It is a great source of pride to have your kids succeed." 

The school continues to build on the momentum of high ACT scores by assisting students with submitting college applications, and they also work to educate parents on the application process as well.

ACT data released for other county schools

The ACT scores for many students at county schools remained about the same from 2015-2018.

Carbon Hill High School students made a slight increase in ACT composite scores from 17.9 to 18, and student scores at Cordova High School were comparable, increasing from 17.8 to 18. 

ACT scores at Oakman High School were the same in 2015 and 2018 — 17.1. 

Curry High School graduating seniors in 2015 had an average ACT composite score of 18.4, and it has since dropped to 17.7, as reported in 2018.

Poverty-stricken students in Walker County Schools scored an average ACT composite score of 17.8. Approximately 50 percent of students enrolled in Walker County schools receive free lunch and would fall into the economically disadvantaged subgroup. 

Students begin taking the ACT their junior year of high school and have the opportunity to retake the test a number of times before they graduate high school. PARCA's data only examines the scores of seniors. 

All schools in Walker County have produced students that score 30 or higher on the ACT. The Walker County Board of Education recently honored many students for the achievement.