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Lincoln Charter students ASPIRE to higher scores

 

SARAH LOWERY

Staff Writer

 

A group of Lincoln Charter high school students met for a final session Friday after completing a 10-week program to help them better prepare for the ACT test.

Taught by April Dillon, Cooperative Extension agent for 4-H Youth Development, and 4-H volunteer Kristi Johnsen, the course, titled ASPIRE, is part of a collaborative effort between N.C. State University, the N.C. Cooperative Extension and local 4-H branches.

Designed specifically with rural counties in mind, the preparatory classes offer a cost-effective means for students to improve on their test scores.

This is the first year the program has been available, with classes offered locally at both Lincoln Charter’s Denver campus and the Citizens Center in downtown Lincolnton.

Twenty-one Lincoln Charter students completed hour-long sessions during their lunch breaks on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, resulting in 30 hours of instruction time, in addition to time spent on homework for the course.

Johnsen said that meeting during the school day meant the class time didn’t have to compete with students’ extracurricular activities after school.

Participants also completed four ACT practice tests, with the first administered prior to instruction to determine on what level the students stood.

The ASPIRE program costs $150, of which $100 is refundable for those students who participated in every class and took all four tests.

Students also have access to online materials to go along with the course.

Though students practiced math and science problems during their last class Friday — after receiving certificates for their accomplishment — Johnsen stressed that the course is really designed to bolster their general test-taking skills.

Junior Monayzia Taylor said that before the class, she felt nervous when taking the test. But now, the strategies she’s learned throughout the 10-week program have helped boost her confidence in how best to tackle the questions.

Johnsen noted that even between just the first and second tests, some students’ scores jumped more than six points, a significant leap for a test graded on a 36-point scale.

The ASPIRE program will be offered again in the fall, and Johnsen hopes the course can gain momentum and expand into local public schools.

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