U.S., Colo. ACT results flat

A quarter of the 2011 high school graduates who took the ACT test met or exceeded all of the test system’s four college readiness benchmarks, while 23 percent of Colorado graduates met all four.

The 2011 results are similar to those posted in 2010, when 24 percent of test-takers nationwide met or exceeded all four benchmarks and 23 percent did so in Colorado.

Colorado traditionally lags national averages slightly in ACT reports. Colorado is one of only eight states were 100 percent of students are required to take the test in the 11th grade.

ACT scores are required by many colleges as part of the application process, but in recent years the Iowa-based test company has worked to position the test and a set of companion exams as predictors of college readiness that can be used by students, counselors and even policymakers.

In a prepared statement released by ACT, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, “These ACT results are another sign that states need to raise their academic standards and commit to education reforms that accelerate student achievement.” The 2011 results were released early Wednesday.

ACT test scores chart
Click to enlarge. Chart by ACT

The readiness benchmarks, which are calculated using grades earned by college students correlated to their ACT scores, identify the minimum ACT scores in the test sections on English composition, reading, math and science that indicate if a student has a 50 percent chance of earning a B or higher or about a 75 percent chance of earning a C or higher in a typical first-year college course.

The chart shows the percentages of U.S. and Colorado students who met the benchmark in each subject area.

The math and science percentages were up slightly from 2010 while English and reading were unchanged.

In Colorado, 13 percent of test-takers met the benchmarks in three subjects, 17 percent in two, 15 percent in one, and 32 percent met none of the benchmarks. Nationally, 28 percent of test-takers didn’t meet the benchmark in any subject, the same percentage as in 2010.

Here are the national average scores on the ACT test:

  • Composite – 21.1
  • English composition – 20.6
  • Math – 21.1
  • Reading – 21.3
  • Science – 20.9

Colorado scores were 20.7 composite, 20.1 English, 20.4 math, 20.9 reading and 20.7 science.

Colorado students’ 2010 average scores in those areas were 20.6 composite, 19.9 English, 20.4 math, 21.1 reading and 20.7 science.

More than 1.62 million 2011 graduates took the ACT test. The proportion of African-American and Hispanic test-takers has grown from 19 percent in 2007 to a high of 26 percent in 2011. Score results show significant gaps between the scores of white students and minorities.

The annual report from ACT also examined the percentage of students who take what the testing company believes is an appropriate set of college prep courses. The report found that 69 percent of Colorado students took recommended coursework in English composition, 54 in reading, 46 percent in math and only 34 percent in science.

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.