Mehlville needs to do more to boost ACT scores, writes a resident


Letter to the Editor 

To the editor:

The composite ACT (American College Test) is a test taken by high-school seniors and represents an average of English, math, reading and science test scores.

Some may say the composite ACT is an indicator of the quality of education a student received in the district.

Missouri published the 2018 Composite ACT scores last year through the Missouri Comprehensive Data System (mcds.dese.

Mehlville School District made a slight improvement in the composite ACT score when comparing 2017 (20.9) versus 2018 (21.2). However, the composite ACT of 21.2 is still the second lowest in the last 11 years for Mehlville.

When comparing composite ACT scores of 14 area districts, Mehlville ranked ninth.

Ranking the 14 districts from highest to lowest based on composite ACT scores: Ladue (26.4), Clayton (25.9), Kirkwood (24.2), Rockwood (24.1), Webster Groves (23.8), Parkway (23.3), Lindbergh (22.9), Brentwood (22.8), Mehlville (21.2), Fox (20.6), Valley Park ( 20.2), Affton (19.9), Maplewood-Richmond Heights (19.5), Bayless (19.5).

An average composite ACT score of these 14 districts is 22.4, which means the Mehlville ACT score is well below the average of these area districts.

Are students, parents, teachers and administrators satisfied with below average when it comes to academics?

During the 2018-2019 school year (July 2018-June 2019) Superintendent Chris Gaines served as president of The School Superintendents’ Association, or AASA.

That obligation took Superintendent Gaines away from the school district a considerable amount of time.

The AASA reimbursed Mehlville $50,000 “to make up for Gaines taking more trips than usual due to his time as president,” as The Call reported.

His extended absence had to affect the productivity of those who report to him. There is value to being a member of a professional organization, but obligations to Mehlville School District should be a higher priority.

The district deserves a full time superintendent. It is troubling that the school board would support his extended absence.

It is ultimately the responsibility of the Mehlville superintendent and school board to develop a strategy that will significantly improve ACT scores in the near future.

I challenge the superintendent and school board to set a composite ACT goal of 22 for the class of 2020 and 23 for the class of 2021. The fact is there is no posted public goal for the high schools for the composite ACT score.

Wouldn’t it be useful for students, parents, teachers and administrators to focus on improving ACT scores by having a published goal?

There are a variety of positive things going on within the Mehlville School District, however there is considerable room for improvement in academics and specifically ACT scores.

Maybe changes are in order if there is not meaningful progress by next year. Let’s review progress August 2020.

Terry Hildebrandt