The Gulfport School District is beaming with pride after students made the highest ACT average in Mississippi with a score of 21.
"That standardized test can get you into a college. It can get you money in the ways of a college scholarships. So, it's important to kids. It's important to parents," said Gulfport High Principal Mike Lindsey.
Four years ago, Gulfport High made ACT preparation one of its top priorities.
The district credits programs it implemented over the years to help boost scores. For instance, it created an ACT team of teachers to study the best test-taking strategies. Twice a week they spend up to eight minutes in class, giving students practice questions, and showing them how to manage their time to help ease their test anxieties.
The district also pays ACT fees so every 10th grader can take the exam.
The hard work paid off. The district made the highest average in the state based on results from the ACT taken by all Mississippi high school juniors last April.
"I was super excited. I mean, we've worked hard for it. So it's not a huge surprise, because I know our kids are super awesome," said ACT Team Teacher Jane Thompson.
Last school year, a Gulfport High senior made a highest score of 36 on the ACT. This year, another Gulfport High student, Jay Warren, made the perfect score and he is only a junior.
"I was surprised, also kind of not expected. We've done so much ACT prep at the school, so I feel that definitely helped," said Jay.
A high score can create opportunities for students to prepare them to life after high school. Other school districts on the Coast also scored high on the ACT including Long Beach, Ocean Springs, and Pass Christian.