Garfield County ACT scores below college ‘readiness’ standard

John Stroud
Post Independent Staff

ACT scores for high school juniors in Garfield County improved some in 2013 compared to scores for their older counterparts who took the tests the previous year.

Across the board, though, in three local school districts and across Colorado, students with one more year of high school remaining are not quite ready to succeed in college, at least according to the national ACT standard.

Coal Ridge and Rifle high schools in the Garfield School District Re-2 saw their highest scores since 2007, improving from an average ACT composite score of 18.1 in 2012 to 19.1 this year.

The highest possible score on the individual tests, which cover English, reading, math and science reasoning, is 36.

In the Roaring Fork School District Re-1, juniors at Glenwood Springs, Roaring Fork, Basalt and Bridges high schools combined for a composite score of 19.5, which was up from 19.2 in 2012.

The district saw its average composite score across the four district high schools reach a high of 19.8 in both 2009 and 2012.

Grand Valley High School in Parachute, which is part of Garfield District 16, had a composite ACT score of 18.5 this year, up from 17.3 in 2012.

Bottom line, there’s still a lot of room for improvement to make sure students are ready to enter college when they leave high school, said Rob Stein, chief academic officer for Roaring Fork Re-1 schools.

“We haven’t really seen a lot of big gains or losses year over year [in Re-1] going back to about 2009, and are pretty much holding steady,” Stein said. “Our average ACT scores are generally below what ACT considers college ready, and that’s pretty much true across Colorado.”

Statewide, the average composite score for 2013 was 20.1, up just slightly from 20 last year.

The ACT (American College Testing) is given to high school juniors across the country to measure their readiness for college. Many colleges and universities use them for admissions purposes, and students are allowed to retake the tests during their senior year to try to improve their scores.

Colorado is one of only four states that require all 11th-graders to take the ACT tests.

“All of us in Colorado have a lot of work to do to get our kids college ready,” Stein said.

Nationally, ACT has a “College Readiness Benchmark” in the four areas that are tested, which represents the level of achievement required for students to have a strong likelihood for success in their first year of college.

The readiness benchmark ACT score for the English test is 18, which is only being met at three of eight high schools in Roaring Fork Re-1, Garfield Re-2 and District 16, based on the 2013 scores.

For reading, the national benchmark is 22, a score not seen in any of the area high schools, where scores range from a low of 14.8 to a high of 20.6.

The same is true for math and science, which have a readiness benchmark of 22 and 23, respectively.

Area high schools saw a range in ACT math test scores from 15 to 20.5, and in science reasoning from 14.2 to 20.3.

Still, a full point jump in their ACT composite score compared to last year’s test scores was reason to celebrate for both Garfield Re-2 and District 16.

“The one-point difference between Re-2 and the state is the smallest gap we’ve seen since 2007,” said Re-2 spokeswoman Theresa Hamilton. “The hard work of our students, staff and families seems to be paying off.”

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