The Portales Municipal School District has aced the state’s American College Testing score average, and school administrators credit district leadership and its commitment to high academic standards.
According to the organization’s website, Portales Schools bypassed the state average of ACT composite scores by two-tenths of a point, making the district’s average score 20.3.
Portales is also above the state average in math and reading scores. They missed the state average in science scores by two-tenths of a point, scoring a 20.0 average.
Portales’ ACT averages were 19.6 in 2009 and 19.4 in 2008.
Portales Schools Assistant Superintendent Priscilla Hernandez said academic counseling, vigorous curriculum and teachers dedicated to challenging students to do better have all been big factors for the improvement.
“We are a district that’s a good size to be able to work one-on-one with the students,” Hernandez said.
Portales High School Senior William Van Dan holds the district’s highest ACT score of 30. Van Dan said he didn’t need any preparation when he took the test his first time.
“It was like a normal test,” Van Dan said, adding he is thrilled about the college scholarship possibilities for such a high score.
Hernandez said a big factor in the high scores is a method called curriculum mapping. An expert from Henderson State University cross-references the current curriculum with state standards.
Hernandez said teachers in the district are dedicated to this process, and come in during the spring and summer to be a part of the mapping.
Portales Principal Melvin Nusser said other factors in the above average scores are dual enrollment college credit classes offered high school students through Eastern New Mexico University.
Nusser also noted support by the school district’s leadership.
“About four years ago we had some real concerns in science. He (Superintendent Randy Fowler) allowed us to purchase a large amount of science equipment and get that science program back up to snuff,” Nusser said.
Nusser said the high school is also an official ACT testing site, and that’s a big factor for student’s improved scores over the past three years.
“It allows the students to take the ACT in the classrooms they learned in, around people they know in a setting they are comfortable with,” Nusser said.