New program helps Steamboat students improve ACT scores
December 6, 2011
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs High School senior Mariah Starbuck said she was nervous when the letter arrived last month, but the enclosed results proved nothing to worry about.
Starbuck said the four weeks she spent studying for an Oct. 22 ACT test paid off, and the letter inked with her score now hangs prominently on her refrigerator at home.
"I walk by the score every day and say, 'I did good,'" she said Tuesday at the high school.
Starbuck's score was a three-point improvement from her past ACT attempt, and it qualified the senior for a $1,500 scholarship from Ft. Lewis College in Durango, where she hopes to earn her undergraduate degree in athletic training.
Starbuck credits a new ACT prep course being offered at the high school for that success.
A month before the Oct. 22 test, she and 16 other seniors met for 90 minutes on Wednesdays and Thursdays in a computer lab at the high school with college and career counselor Danica Moss, who helped students use an online program called ePrep to study for the test that sometimes can make or break a college application. The new online program serves as a replacement for test books that have graced the shelves of high school seniors for years. It also included a library of videos that explained the answers to questions the students missed.
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"Test prep can be boring, but this is personalized — and they can do it on their own free time," Moss said. "The reason we implemented the new program this year is because it's a need we've identified at the high school. We have outstanding students with great GPAs, but sometimes they have struggled getting into upper-echelon schools because of their (ACT and SAT) test scores."
Sitting in Moss' office Tuesday morning, six seniors who attended the new test prep course were quick to credit the program with the marked improvement in their ACT scores.
"I tried to do a practice test in a book at home, but I got so distracted by everything else around me," said Haley Orton, who said her ACT score improved by five points after she completed the prep program. "But I think this program really forced me to focus on the test and improved my score."
Moss said all of the seniors who enrolled in her test prep program and took the ACT on Oct. 22 saw their scores improve. They also all scored at or above the national average of 22 out of a possible 36.
"College is a high-stakes game," Moss said. "Colleges are getting more competitive, and this program is something students should take starting their sophomore year."
Jake Barker said the program was not only a score booster but also a convenient way to study while on the road. The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club member plugged into the test preparation program while he practiced ski jumping in Lake Placid, N.Y., in preparation for a Nordic combined ski jumping championship.
"Because it was online, I could keep up with my studying," Barker said.
Moss said the inaugural month of the $30 program was only open to seniors but now is available to all high school students.
"I get pretty excited to see the results," she said. "I think this is going to help them get into more schools."
— To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com