Steamboat students keep ACT up

Scores from rest of Routt County fall slightly below state average

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— Juniors and college-bound seniors at Steamboat Springs High School fared better than their peers in Colorado on the 2001 ACT, according to scores released by the school district and the Colorado Division of Education.

Scores at Routt County's two other public schools were slightly below the state average. Scores on the ACT, a national college entrance exam, are part of the formula the state is using to assess school performance. The state's first accountability ratings for schools and school districts will be released next month.

Among seniors who took the ACT, the average score at Steamboat Springs was 23.9, up from an average score of 23.6 in 2000. Local students scored 2.4 points higher this year than the state average of 21.5 released Wednesday.

The 95 college-bound seniors who took the test also scored above the national average of 21.0.

The ACT is based on a scale of 0 to 36, and tests students in English, reading, math and science skills.

As part of Gov. Bill Owens' school assessment program, the ACT was mandatory for all juniors this year. Hayden Superintendent Scott Mader said that made it difficult for Colorado schools' scores to match up on a national level with schools where mostly college-bound students take the ACT.

"It is unfair that all kids have to take them," Mader said. "When that happens you are going to get a lower score."

Hayden's juniors scored an average of 18.5, just below the state average of 18.6 for juniors. At Soroco, the average score for juniors was 17.2.

Soroco Superintendent Steve Jones said the high school had a small group of 21 students who took the test.

He said two of those were special-needs students who did not finish the test. Excluding their scores, the average score for the school was 19.1.

Steamboat Springs school officials said they were pleased with their junior scores, considering worries they had about the date the test was administered.

The mandatory ACT testing date for juniors fell in the middle of the school's spring break.

Colorado Department of Education introduced the pilot program last fall and required all juniors take the ACTs on April 25 or May 9.

The first testing date, April 25, was on the Wednesday of the school's week-long spring vacation. School officials feared students would either miss the test or not be at their best because of the dates, Superintendent Cyndy Simms said.

Despite those fears, Steamboat Springs juniors averaged a score of 21.4 on the ACT, well above the state average of 18.6. Only eight of the 143 juniors did not take the test.

To ensure that students will be in school for this year's April 24 testing date, administrators pushed up spring break to begin on April 15, the week after the ski resorts close.

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