Jamestown High School scored above the state average on the North Dakota State Assessment, an online test taken by sophomores during April and May.

The 167 sophomore JHS students scored an average 677 in the English language arts and literacy portion, which is 21 points higher than the North Dakota average score of 656 among 3,674 students tested. The average score in mathematics among JHS students was 641, which is 32 points higher than the state average 609 among 3,707 students tested.

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The assessment testing shifted from juniors to sophomores two years ago and it’s generally accepted that it’s better to get this data in 10th grade when there is more time to improve, said JHS Principal Adam Gehlhar.

“These students have been in school for 11 years already and as we think about their achievement, we also think about all of the hard work and preparation that went into that,” Gehlhar said. “We stand on the shoulders of the elementary teachers and we stand on the shoulders of the middle school teachers.”

Three sophomore students were recognized Monday for the highest scores in the school.

Cooper Kosel scored the highest in mathematics. Matthew Staiert scored the highest in English language arts and literacy, and Majestic Bjerke had a perfect score in the essay portion.

Bjerke said the essays involved reading articles on various topics in science and social studies and then writing an essay from the testing questions.

Staiert credited his English teachers for his ability to do well on a test for which he was not sure how to prepare. Reading a variety of topics helped, he said.

Cooper said his study and work habits or no different than the average student. He said taking a variety of geometry, algebra and other math most likely prepared him for the testing, he said.

“I’ve always been pretty good at math,” Cooper said. “Before this test I wanted to go into engineering and so this kind of says, ‘OK, I can do the math and so that’s good.”

The results of the annual exams are better designed with information to help students monitor progress and help parents see where improvement is needed, according to the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. The testing was already being used for districtwide testing in Jamestown schools.

Gehlhar said the overall achievement is from a continuum of change that the school district has made in addition to the hard work of the students. It’s about developing a culture of continuous learning where kids read more and do more in and out of the classroom, he said.

“All of those things will help our kids be better communicators and critical thinkers in their future,” he said.