Another test report shows flat results

Graduating seniors in Colorado and the nation performed about the same on ACT tests in 2013 as their predecessors did in recent years, according to the study released Wednesday.

ACT results chart
Click to see larger image.

The national study came out a week after Colorado reported its 2013 TCAP scores and growth data, which also were largely flat (see story).

The annual report from the testing service found 39 percent of 2013 graduates meet three or more of the four ACT readiness benchmarks, and 31 percent met no benchmarks. The benchmarks indicate students’ chances of success in first-year college courses.

In Colorado only 25 percent of test takers met the benchmarks in all four subjects, compared to 26 percent nationwide.

Colorado’s 2013 average composite score was 20.4, compared to a national average of 20.9. Some 56,027 Colorado graduates took the test.

National and state benchmark performance and composite scores have been in pretty much the same range every year since 2009.

College and career readiness problems persist ,“with the majority [of students] ill-prepared for success at the next level,” according to ACT’s The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2013.

The report also found significant gaps between white students and others, both in Colorado and the nation. No more than 48 percent of African American, Hispanic and American Indian students met any of the benchmarks nationally.

The ACT calculates that students who meet the minimum benchmark scores in English, math, reading and science have a 75 percent chance of earning a C or higher in a typical first-year college credit course.

Here are percentages of Colorado test takers who met benchmarks in individual subjects, with the national percentage in parenthesis:

  • English: 62 percent (64 percent)
  • Reading: 42 (44)
  • Math: 39 (44)
  • Science: 36 (36)

The ACT report also provides details about the effects on scores of taking core academic courses and a rigorous curriculum in middle school, and about the relationship between student goals and overall student engagement and test performance.

ACT testColorado is in the middle of a years-long effort to improve student readiness for college, using steps mandated by a 2008 law. Those measures include new academic content standards, in effect this year for all school districts; new high school graduation guidelines (see story), and creation of a new diploma that signifies college readiness (see story).

The Department of Higher Education also is revising college admissions requirements and remediation policies (see story).

Nationwide, some 54 percent of 2013’s 1.8 million high school graduates took the ACT tests. In 29 states 50 percent or more of grads took the tests, and 12 states had participation of 90 percent or higher. Colorado requires all high schools juniors to take the test, regardless of whether they plan to attend college. About 57 percent of state high school graduates went on to college in 2011, the most recent data available.

For 2013 ACT benchmarks were adjusted up one point in reading and down one point in science on the 36-point scale. The 2013 report also includes scores from students who received accommodations in taking the tests, which wasn’t the case in the past.

Annual national and state results for the other major college entrance exam, the SAT, usually are released in September. The 2012 report found that about 43 percent of high school graduates were ready for college. In the past Colorado students have scored higher than the national mean on the SAT tests. But only about 17 percent of Colorado students took the test in 2012, and only 14 percent of students who graduated from public high schools.

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”


Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”


Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”


Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”


Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”


Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

moving forward

After Confederate flag dispute at Colorado football game, schools pledge to bring students together

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
Manual High students.

Acknowledging “we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened,” two Colorado school districts sought to move past a controversy over whether a Confederate flag was displayed at a football game and open a conversation between the two school communities.

The principal of Manual High, Nick Dawkins, wrote in a community letter over the weekend that the visiting Weld Central High School team “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the (Friday night) game, offending many members of the Manual community.”

Officials from Denver Public Schools and Weld County School District Re-3J released a joint letter Tuesday saying that based “on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag.” At the same time, it said, multiple Manual eyewitnesses “reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images.”

Going forward, students from the two schools — one rural and one urban — will participate in a student leadership exchange that has student leaders visit each other’s schools and communities to “share ideas and perspectives,” the letter says.

“At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together,” says the letter, which is signed by the principals of both schools and the superintendents of both school districts.

The alleged incident took place at a time when issues of race, social injustice, politics and sports are colliding in the United States, making for tough conversations, including in classrooms.

Weld Central’s mascot is a Rebel. Manual, whose mascot is the Thunderbolts, is located in one of Denver’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Dawkins in his initial community letter also said “the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field,” and that three Manual players were injured, including one who went to the hospital with a leg injury. He also said some Manual players reported that Weld Central players “taunted them with racial slurs.”

Weld Central officials vehemently denied that their team displayed the flag. In addition, they said in their own community letter they had “no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior.”

They said district officials “do not condone any form of racism,” including the Confederate flag.

Weld Central fans told the Greeley Tribune that they didn’t see any Confederate flag.

Read the full text below.