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Despite a very small decline overall, Helena's ACT scores are holding steadily above the state average. 

"This is a completely different group of students," said school district Superintendent Tyler Ream. "It's kind of amazing to have that level of consistency."

The federally required exam was completed by the junior class of 2018-19 in the spring. 

Helena's average composite score was 20.6, which is 0.02 points lower than it was the prior year. Helena's English language arts composite scores went up from 19.6 last year to 19.7 this year. Helena's Math scores went up by 0.06 points to 20.46.

All of these scores were higher than the state average of 19.61 overall, 18.40 in English language arts and 19.62 in math. 

According to data released by the Montana Office of Public Instruction, the scores show 39% of Helena's junior class showed at or above college readiness. Statewide, 32% of students tested at that level.

About 40% of Helena students showed college readiness in math and just under 60% were college-ready in English. 

Of the 682 Helena students who took the test, 52 received the most common score of 20. A total of 51 students received a score of 21, and 49 students scored 16. 

Thirteen students received a score of 32, which was the highest in the school district. 

Helena students scored an average of 6.92 out of 12 on the writing portion of the test, which is an area that Ream said the district is working to improve. Ream said a score of 8 would be sufficient for the most selective colleges, while a 7 puts students in the top 40% of students who take the ACT nationally. The overall state average in writing was 6.38. 

Overall, Ream said he does not see any major issues with the scores but he does believe there is room for improvement. 

"Rigorous coursework and support early on shows better results," Ream said. 

For Ream, supporting students and convincing them that they can perform at a higher level are the keys to success with challenges like the ACT.

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