Seventeen students at a single high school in Ohio earned the top score — 36 — on the ACT college admission test, a feat believed to be highly unusual, if not unprecedented.
The announcements said 17 students — nine juniors and eight seniors — received a “perfect” score, which is a composite of 36 on all four mandatory parts of the ACT (English, math, reading and science). The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36. The average national score for 2018, the ACT reports on its website, was 20.8. A top score of 36 does not mean, however, that all questions were answered correctly.
How unusual is this? It is unclear. ACT spokesman Edward Colby said the organization does not track how many perfect scores come from a single school. About 0.2 percent of students nationwide who took the exam earned a 36 in 2018, he said.
“We actually don’t keep statistics on the number of students per high school that have earned a 36 on any given test date or in any given year, so I can’t say exactly how unusual that is,” he said in an email. “It depends on how big the high school is, of course.”
Walnut Hills, which is called a high school but has students from grades seven through 12, has 2,400 students, according to its website, and is in the top 100 high schools in the U.S. News & World Report listing. In that ranking, it is listed as the leading high school in Ohio. Thirty percent of the school’s students are black, 7 percent are of two or more races, 5 percent are Asian, 2 percent are Hispanic, and most of the rest are white, U.S. News said in its 2018 data, and 19 percent are economically disadvantaged.
According to the school’s website, 87 percent of graduates leave with college credits because they took college-level courses in high school. The school opened in 1895 and has been in the same building since the early 1930s. The Walnut Hills website says:
Walnut Hills offers a rigorous classical program, requiring three years of Latin for incoming 7th and 8th graders. There is an Advanced Placement Program offering 30 courses, more than any other school in the nation – public or private. The school has an outstanding cultural arts program which includes five dramatic/musical productions each year, AP studio art, and award winning bands and orchestras. There are 90 competitive sports teams and over 50 extra-curricular activities. The school participates in science and foreign language competitions, the National Mathematics Examination, First Lego Robotics, the Model United Nations, and the National Scholastic Art and Writing competition.
For the record, here are the names of students who earned a perfect ACT score: