The rising senior class at Farmington High School, which opened at the beginning of the 2018–2019 school year, has earned the highest average ACT composite score of any high school in Davis School District, the second largest district in the state.
Historically, Davis High School has had the highest scores in the district and among the highest scores in the state, according to Farmington High Principal Richard Swanson, who was previously principal at Davis High School.
While statewide results will not be released until the fall, the fact that Farmington has surpassed Davis means it’s likely Farmington will be the top scorer statewide.
All juniors in Utah took the ACT in late February and early March as part of statewide ACT testing. Schools and districts have recently received their score reports from ACT for this statewide testing window.
Farmington’s class of 2020, which has slightly more than 700 students, earned an ACT composite average of 22.2, Swanson said. The composite score is the average of students’ scores on each of the four subject tests, rounded to the nearest whole number, according to ACT’s website.
Davis School District’s average composite on the statewide test for juniors was 20.5, according to the district’s community relations supervisor, Shauna Lund. The statewide average composite score, which is included on school reports, was 19.7.
Perhaps more significant than the school’s high score is the growth that Farmington juniors made between the practice ACT test they took in November and the statewide test they took in February and March.
The average composite score for Farmington juniors went up 1.2 points, Lund wrote in an email, a significant amount on the 36-point test. The typical growth between a fall practice test and winter test date is 0.2-0.3, Swanson said.
Swanson said he believes Farmington’s personalized teaching and learning approach contributed to the higher scores.
The school uses the Summit Learning platform, an online learning tool that allows students to move at their own pace through assignments and tests. The platform is a key part of the school’s competency-based model.
“(The Summit Learning platform) fosters critical thinking because the students ... have a lot of opportunity to self-direct,” Swanson said. “They do take a lot of assessments where they’re using a lot of those same test-taking strategies on a very regular basis within the platform that they might not be used to doing in a traditional type of classroom.”
The school took an integrated approach to ACT preparation, where elements of ACT prep were included regularly in coursework rather than only in an isolated ACT prep course.
“(ACT prep courses) are kind of an inoculation, a real, real heavy effort for a short period of time, rather than something that’s interlaced in the curriculum throughout the entire year,” Swanson said.
Because the school is new and open about its personalized learning model, there is always a possibility that the school attracted the type of student who was more likely to score high on standardized tests in the first place.
Unlike Farmington’s class of 2019, who opted in to attending Farmington to finish high school, the class of 2020 was assigned to the school through the normal boundary process, so self-selection was likely not a factor in the higher scores.