Test can convince kids to try college | VailDaily.com

Test can convince kids to try college

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY ” High School juniors in Eagle County have consistently been raising scores on the ACT, a widely recognized standardized test for college admissions.

Recently released scores for 2007 show that Eagle County juniors at all three high schools improved in every area on the test, which includes English, math, reading and science. Most scores for 2007 were the highest in four years for the local high schools.

Colorado is one of three states that gives the ACT to all high school juniors as an assessment of student achievement, much like they would the Colorado Student Assessment Program, or CSAP. In other states, the test is taken only by college-bound students.

Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain high schools scored within three tenths of a point next to each other in all subjects. Students at Red Canyon High School generally scored around 6 points below the other high schools in each subject.

Both Eagle Valley’s and Battle Mountain’s scores were slightly higher than Colorado’s average.

“I attribute that to a lot of things ” the job our teachers are doing, the content they are covering, and the students for the importance they put on the exam,” said Mark Strakbein, principal at Eagle Valley High School.

The ACT is different than the CSAP in that it can have a more visible impact on a student’s future, and students are recognizing that it could help them get into a good school. That’s why many students spend a lot of time studying for the ACT out of class, and parents help encourage that, Strakbein said.

And because it’s a required test, many students who never really considered college start applying after seeing their scores, Strakbein said.

“Kids who thought they would not have scored well enough to get in to a college see that they did score well enough, and they say, ‘Maybe I should be one of those college kids,'” Strakbein said. “Its’ a vote of confidence for them.”

Brian Hester, principal at Battle Mountain, said good ACT scores begin with solid instruction in classes like English and math, but many students have benefited from an extensive ACT prep class offered at the school. He said that about 20 students who took the test as juniors last year took it again as seniors this year, but in between these tests they took the prep course.

“All their scores went up considerably,” Hester said.

Staff writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.

For a detailed look at how Colorado and individual schools performed on the ACT, visit http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdeassess/documents/COACT/coact_summary.html.

There, you can look at ACT scores broken down by gender, ethnicity, English proficiency and look at year to year progress.

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