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District’s ACT results stay flat

Rochester scores continue to soar above state averages

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published December 16, 2015

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ROCHESTER — Last spring, Michigan high school juniors took the ACT one last time before the state switches to the SAT as its primary form of student assessment in 2016.

According to an analysis of data recently posted on the state’s website, www.mischooldata.org, the average ACT scores of Rochester Community Schools students remained almost flat districtwide from the year before — with the average composite ACT score falling one-tenth of a point, from 23.3 last year to 23.2 this year.

Carrie Lawler, executive director of secondary education for RCS, said that with this being RCS’s last administration of the test, she thinks the district “did well.”

“It was a very solid performance. The 23.2 is one-tenth of a point down from last year, but we tested 20 more students than we did the prior year — we went from 1,198 to 1,217, so sometimes that can make a difference,” she said.

The ACT exam covers five subject areas: English, math, reading, science and an essay for writing that is not included in the online test data. Scores are tabulated for each subject, and a composite score is figured. In order to be considered college-ready, state officials said, a student has to earn an 18 on the English portion of the ACT, a 22 in math, a 22 in reading and a 23 in science.

This year, roughly 80 percent of RCS students were determined college-ready in English, 64 percent in math, 55 percent in reading and 57 percent in science — all of which are well above state average college-readiness figures.

In comparing this year’s subject scores to last year’s, Lawler said the district was up in most areas.

She noted that the district was slightly down in two subjects: math and reading. The percentage of RCS students that were determined to be college-ready in reading fell from 61.8 percent last year to 55 percent this year. College-ready student scores in math dropped slightly, from 64.4 percent last year to 63.9 percent this year.

“Classes have personalities when they come through, and sometimes you just have a whole class of 11th-graders that is really strong in an area, so it’s going to fluctuate a little bit every year,” Lawler said of the math and reading scores. “It is very rare to have exactly the same score twice.”

Instead of dwelling on fluctuations in district scores from year to year, Lawler said the district tries to look at what the county and state averages are, to make sure RCS is at the forefront and not trying to catch up. As in years past, the district’s average composite score continues beat the state’s average composite of 19.9. A perfect ACT score is 36.

“We are pleased with our results, and we look at where we are with the state and try to make sure we are at the top end,” she explained. “We have a strong K-12 program, so I don’t think our scores are just attributable to the high schools. We have a good solid program where students’ classes are aligned K-12 … so it allows students to advance as much as they can. I think that is a big part of it.”

Students statewide will take the SAT test for the first time in April.

Lawler said she doesn’t foresee any changes to the curriculum, since it is already aligned with the Common Core State Standards — a set of educational learning standards that ensure consistency across the country.

“They chose the test at the state level because it is better aligned with the Common Core State Standards, which we have already been teaching, so hopefully that will align nicely,” she said.

RCS Community Relations Director Lori Grein said the ACT scores reflect a “truly solid performance” by the district’s students.

“The trend continues in a positive direction, and we anticipate that continuing with the SATs,” said Grein.