There was good news Thursday for the Baker School System, a budding Baton Rouge business and many graduating high school seniors across the state.
The Baker system led Louisiana with the highest percentage gain on average composite ACT college entrance scores for the 2014-15 school year.
MasteryPrep, a fast-growing tenant at Louisiana Technology Park’s business incubator in Baton Rouge, provided ACT tutorial materials and instructional assistance used by teachers at Baker High School and about 100 other Louisiana schools.
Combined with gains experienced in about 25 other school systems in the state, officials at MasteryPrep said they hope to continue adding to contracts already signed with about 500 high schools across 16 states.
“It is an honor for us to work with these schools, and we’re thrilled that we were able to work with the top-improving school districts in the state,” said Charlie Davis, a partner and chief strategic officer at MasteryPrep.
Davis noted the company’s clients also included the next four fastest-improving Louisiana school systems — those of East Carroll, Terrebonne, Plaquemines and Rapides parishes.
“We’re seeing comparable gains in other states,” said Craig Gehring, who founded MasteryPrep after earning perfect scores on both the ACT and SAT college entrance exams at Baton Rouge Magnet High School.
When MasteryPrep instructors work directly with students planning to take the ACT, those students average a 2.75-point gain on the 36-point test, Gehring added. The industry standard, he said, is 0.9 points.
Gehring noted that the minimum score needed to qualify in Louisiana for a state-funded TOPS scholarship is 18. He said the program he developed is targeted at those students who may need an extra 1 or 2 points to qualify for that life-altering assistance.
In Baker, Superintendent Herman Brister said both MasteryPrep’s assistance and an ACT boot camp staffed by instructors from Southern University contributed to a one-year increase of 67 percent in the number of seniors earning an ACT score of at least 18.
“All of that played a role,” Brister said. “It’s a collective effort.”
At Baker High in the 2013-14 school year, 27 of 114 seniors scored at least an 18, Brister said. This year, 45 of 91 seniors scored high enough to qualify for a TOPS.
“Our new leadership, faculty and staff are excited by the creative and student-centered education initiatives we will be instituting this fall,” Brister added. “Baker student scores will not only improve on the ACT but on all of the other measurables used in our school system.”
Statewide, 24,619 high school seniors scored at least 18 on the ACT this year, about 1,000 more than last year.