County testing scores varied

ACT test results compared with Colorado average

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The average ACT composite score for juniors at Steamboat Springs High School was 22, an increase of 1 point, or about 5 percent, from the year before.

That's well above the state average, which was 19, but nowhere near a perfect score of 36.

Steamboat scores increased from the year before in all four categories in which students are tested: English, math, reading and science.

South Routt juniors earned an average composite score of 18.7, just below the state average, according to results released by the Colorado Department of Education. Their scores for each subject except math increased. The math score decreased from 18.4 to 17.5.

The ACT is a college admissions exam that uses multiple-choice questions to measure a student's proficiency in the four subjects. The recently released scores reflect achievement of 2004-05 juniors.

Ann Sims, director of curriculum and instruction for the Steamboat Springs School District, said the test is just one of many measurements of how well students are learning.

District officials are pleased that scores are above the state average in every category and as a composite, she said.

The biggest jump in scores for Steamboat students was in reading, which went from 21.5 to 23.1. English scores jumped by 0.9 points, science by 0.7 points and math by 0.6 points.

Most colleges use ACT scores, but even when considering whether to accept students, the test is just one factor, Sims said.

A composite score of 22 typically would not be enough, on its own, for acceptance into state schools such as the University of Colorado or Colorado State University, she said. But students with such a score and other achievements could be accepted.

"A 22 -- is it bad? No. Is it stellar? No. I would say it's pretty average," Sims said about the school's average score.

That's not to say the district is satisfied with average, she said. But, she said, the score was an average that reflects one day of testing during which all juniors take the exam.

What it doesn't reflect is that some students may take the exam again, and others who don't plan to go to college may be less concerned about their exam performance.

Superintendent Donna How--ell said the district recently has been focusing on math, with the goal of continually improving testing scores in that area, including the ACT.

According to a college readiness report released by the testing agency, only 25 percent of last year's graduating seniors received a "benchmark" score in all four testing areas. That score means a student has a 50 percent chance of receiving a B or higher in a college course on that subject or a 75 percent chance of receiving a C or higher.

Sims said she thinks more factors play into whether students succeed in college-level classes than what the test can predict.

According to the college readiness report for Soroco High School, only 14 percent of last year's graduating seniors received a "benchmark" score in all four testing areas. Statewide, 18 percent of last year's graduating received such a score in all four subjects.

James Chamberlin, Soroco Middle and High School principal, said the high school has been phasing in a program that requires students to take more rigorous core classes to graduate. Those new requirements, which include a third year of math and science, should contribute to higher scores in coming years.

"There's always room for improvement," he said. He also emphasized that because of the small number of students at Soroco, one student's test score affects the average significantly.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail scunningham@steamboatpilot.com

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