Updated: 08/20/2014 7:04 PM
Created: 08/20/2014 7:56 AM KAALtv.com
By: Dan Conradt
(ABC 6 News) -- For the ninth year in a row, Minnesota students have scored best in the nation in the ACT college entrance exam.
This year, there will some ACT changes in Minnesota schools, and they’re very similar to changes already in place in the Austin School District.
"We want that door to be open to those students who may not think they want it open at this time," said AHS principal Katie Baskin.
And that's why the Austin school district changed the way it administers the ACT college entrance exam.
"A couple of years ago we started giving the act to all our juniors," Baskin explained. And not only was the test offered without charge. "We do it in the morning, and they take it here in a classroom with a teacher they know, and in a setting that is comfortable to them."
“It's just as if you were taking it at a college, and I think it takes a lot of the pressure off that you're taking it here for the first time," said AHS senior Kole Igou.
“Then they can just focus their efforts on doing their very best and showing us what they know," Baskin said.
Because the test was offered to all juniors and not just those who knew they were college bound, the ACT scores at Austin high school went down. But there were gains of a different kind.
"It provides our teachers a resource to utilize because the data can be stranded out to see how they're doing in reading and math. It provides us with tools to make educational decisions," Baskin told ABC6 news.
And Austin high school was ahead of the ACT curve -- this school year, all Minnesota juniors will begin taking the test, free of charge, under new graduation requirements approved by the 2013 legislature.
"It's given us an opportunity to have conversations in a different realm than we've had before, both curricularly (sic), instructionally," Katie Baskin said.
“For the next time i already know what I'm going to do differently," said Igou, who took the ACT test last year as a junior, and plans to take it a second time in a couple of weeks.
“The bottom line is we have an accurate picture of how all of our students are doing here at Austin high school," Baskin said.