Results are in

Colorado ACT test scores remain flat

Colorado’s run of flat test scores continued with the release Friday of ACT results that showed high school juniors recorded a composite score of 20.1 on the college readiness test last spring, down from 20.3 in 2014.

State scores on the test have budged very little since 2008, from a low of 20 to last year’s scores as the high.

The composite score is drawn from the scores of all students on the test’s four sections – English, reading, math and science. Composite scores in individual subjects were down except for science, where the score was 20.5 compared to 2014’s 20.4. The perfect score on all ACT test sections is 36.

The scores, released by the Colorado Department of Education, are the second set of data from the spring testing season to be made available.

Scores on state science and social studies tests, released in July, showed a modest uptick from 2014. Scores for the new PARCC language arts and math tests will be made public in November.

The 2015 ACT scores showed familiar gaps between different groups of students. Some examples:

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  • The composite scores were 20.3 for females and 20 for males.
  • Students who qualify for free- and reduced-price lunches had a composite score of 17.3.
  • White students scored 21.7, while scores were 17.3 for Hispanics, 17.1 for blacks, 22 for Asians and 17.9 for American Indians.
  • Students with non-English language backgrounds scored 13.7.
  • Students receiving Title I services, with individual education plans and other special services scored 16.8.
  • Immigrant students scored 15.7.

The ACT scores are one element used by the state accreditation system to rate how well districts and schools are preparing students for college and the workforce. All juniors are required to take the test. While the scores aren’t used by schools to rate students, ACT results are vital for students who are applying to college.

Results from the ACT or a similar test may take on greater importance in the future.

A testing law passed earlier this year requires that Colorado students take a college and career readiness test in the 10th grade as well as the 11th grade exam. The two tests are supposed to be aligned, so they are expected to be provided by the same testing company.

The new law also requires that the contract for the two tests be put out to bid, so ACT won’t necessarily be the winner. The department hopes to select a testing company by November.

Results of college entrance tests also are one indicator that districts can use to meet new state high school graduation guidelines approved this week by the State Board of Education.

There’s also talk among some policymakers and legislators of adapting the ACT or another 11th grade test so its results can be used to fulfill federal requirements for giving a science test once in high school. Doing that would eliminate the current 11th grade science test.

The results released Friday – officially known as the Colorado ACT – differ somewhat from national results provided recently by the testing company. The state results cover only public school students who took the test as juniors. The company’s results cover 2015 high school graduates and include non-public students and students who took the test as seniors.


¿Cuantos niños en su escuela son inmunizados?

Monserrat Cholico, 8, en la Crawford Kids Clinic en Aurora en 2015 (Denver Post).

Chalkbeat recolectó datos para ayudar a los padres a entender si las escuelas de sus hijos están protegidos de enfermedades. Busque su escuela en nuestra base de datos.

“Immunization rate” representa el porcentaje de estudiantes que están totalmente inmunizados.

“Exemption rate” representa el porcentaje de estudiantes cuyos padres optaron por no vacunar a sus hijos.

“Compliance rate” representa el porcentaje de estudiantes que están siguiendo la ley de Colorado. La ley dice que los estudiantes deben obtener vacunas o firmar formularios de exención.

Choosing college

State’s college attendance rate shows slight turnaround

PHOTO: Oliver Morrison

The percentage of Colorado high school students enrolling in college right after graduation increased slightly in 2014, according to a new report from the Department of Higher Education.

Of 2014’s 53,771 graduates, 55.8 percent went on to college immediately, up from the 2013 rate but three percentage points below the record in 2009, according to the Report on the Postsecondary Progress and Success of High School Graduates (full copy at bottom of this article).

In the recession year of 2009, when the state started compiling the report, 58.8 percent of high school grads went to college.

“The most recent, 2014, is the first cohort whose enrollment rate increased from the previous year,” the report noted. “Previously, all graduating classes included in this report had a lower enrollment rate than their previous year.”

The report “is good news because so many of the jobs in our technology and information based economy require post-secondary credentials,” said Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, who’s also executive director of the department. “However, the report also reveals that we have continuing and significant gaps in post-secondary outcomes and that students from certain demographic groups are doing much better than others. If we are to meet our education and workforce goals, we must do a better job of supporting low income, rural, and minority students so that they graduate with a credential that will lead to a living wage job.”

Overall college enrollment tends to rise when the economy is weak and drop when times improve. Fall enrollment in 2014 was 251,778, down from the recent high of 284,405 in 2011.

The report details continuing disparities between demographic groups in college attendance and success. Postsecondary enrollment for Latino students is nearly 20 percentage points below white students, and, after their first year of college, African-American students on average earn nearly 10 fewer credits than white students, it said.

“As Colorado’s demographics continue to change and labor markets increasingly demand quality postsecondary credentials, ensuring the state’s future economic prosperity requires that these educational gaps be highlighted and strategically addressed,” the report said.

The report also breaks out college-going rates for individual districts. The district with the highest college attendance rate was Limon, with 84.4 percent of its 32 2014 graduates going on to higher education.

Larger districts in the top 10 included Cheyenne Mountain, Douglas County, Lewis-Palmer and Littleton.

The Plateau Valley district in eastern Mesa County had the lowest rate, 16 percent. Metro-area districts in the bottom 10 included Adams 14, Englewood, Sheridan and Westminster.

Some 76 percent of 2014 grads attended Colorado colleges, and 74 percent of those students attended four-year schools. The most popular schools were Colorado State University and the University of Colorado Boulder. Front Range Community College attracted the largest number of students enrolling in two-year schools.

The annual study examines not only college-going rates but also grade point averages, credits earned, persistence and graduation rates going back to the class of 2009.

Members of the high school class of 2014 who attended Colorado colleges had an average grade point average of 2.78 during their freshman year. Those students completed an average of 30 credits by the end of 2014-15.

Search for your district’s college-going rates here:

And read the Department of Higher Education’s report here: