Donavant named Tennessee ACT Champion

ACT, the company responsible for the ACT college entrance exam, has named Dr. Brian Donavant, criminal justice professor at the University of Tennessee at Martin, the 2019 Tennessee ACT College and Career Readiness Postsecondary Champion. Donavant was selected for his work on the development of the ACT preparation program at the UT Martin Ripley Center.

The ACT College and Career Readiness Champion Award recognizes students, educators and professionals who both support ACT’s mission to promote education and workplace success and work to advance college and career readiness in their communities. The ACT State Council in each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., select one champion in each state for the high school senior, K-12, postsecondary and workforce-professional categories.

Donavant helped develop daylong ACT prep courses taught by university faculty that focus on test-taking strategies for each of the four sections on the ACT exam. The UT Martin Ripley Center offered the course to all high school juniors in the Lauderdale County School District free of charge and saw up to a seven-point increase in individual composite test scores for participating students. The program also served as a structure for a pilot summer professional-development program for local teachers taught by doctoral-level university faculty.

“The University of Tennessee’s land-grant mission means that we reach beyond the campus and classroom to serve local communities,” said Donavant. “Many students are overwhelmed and intimidated by college entrance requirements, and we want to help remove these obstacles to their dreams of a college education.”

Shawn Kimble, Lauderdale County Schools superintendent, and Susan Farris, director of secondary and career-technical education for Lauderdale County Schools, coordinated with Donavant on the project.

“Partnering with local teachers and administrators to increase college-readiness and access to opportunities that often seem unattainable is a unique privilege, and we are excited for the milestones these students achieve,” Donavant said.

Donavant developed the program while serving as interim executive director for the UT Martin Office of Educational Outreach, which has also offered the ACT prep course at other locations through its non-degree programs.

For more information on this award, contact Donavant at 731-881-3510 or email For information on the ACT programs in Lauderdale County, contact the Lauderdale County School District at 731-635-2941 or Debbie Mount, UT Martin Non-Degree Programs, at 731-881-7984.


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