'Areas of concern' noted on ACT scores : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|'Areas of concern' noted on ACT scores |
|Oswego High, Oswego East scores lower under new reporting method|
|by Lyle R. Rolfe|
Oswego School District high school students scored above the state and national average on the ACT (American College Test), using the traditional reporting system, school district board members were told during a recent meeting.
Dr. Judith Minor, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, said Oswego East High School students increased their average composite score by .8 points from the previous year, adding that this was a consistent five-year growth trend based on the traditional reporting system.
Minor said Oswego High School students have had a .6 point increase since 2000, based on the traditional reporting method.
But, Minor noted that there are areas of concern. She said both high schools dropped in their composite ACT scores from the previous year using the state's new reporting method, which includes adding special needs students' scores as part of the standard. Using the new mix, Oswego East dropped 0.1 point and Oswego High dropped 0.9 point, she said.
Board member Brent Lightfoot asked if the number of special needs students was about the same at each high school. Minor said she did not know but would have this information at the October meeting along with a report on how well these students have done during their high school career.
Board member Greg O'Neil said he noticed the ACT scores for other area schools went up and asked if they also were using the new system. Minor said they are.
She said more support is needed to ensure that district students will be eligible for colleges and universities of their choice.
Minor's report provide the school board with an initial overview of the student achievement data of the ACT and AP (Advanced Placement) scores that will set a foundation for their work this year.
Minor said board members need to understand the differences with the ACT scores.
Changes in the ACT reporting parameters by the state now include all students taking the test, meaning regular and special needs students.
Also, the state is looking at students performance on a class-to-class basis rather than on the basis of the same students every year, she said, adding that she plans to explain this in more detail at a board meeting next month.
Minor said the Oswego East graduating class average ACT score increased from 20.2 in 2009 to 21.6 in 2013. However, when the special needs students score of 15.6 was added, the overall score for the class was 20.7.
Oswego High scored 20.9 in 2009 and increased to 21.7 in 2012, but dropped to 21.5 in 2013. And when the special needs 15.4 score was included the overall class score was 20.8, she said.
She said a composite score of 24 on the ACT would give the students a choice of more colleges and universities. But this will require the district to establish a guaranteed and viable curriculum by the district's Common Core Curriculum Team, the District Math Curriculum Committee and other teams.
The board now needs to begin discussions on ways to increase student academic achievement through the school improvement process, she added.
Also, it will require defining a system of support for students who may need extra help, she said.
They also will conduct audits of the special education, gifted education and English learners groups, Minor said.
"But, to move the students to a composite of 24, requires us to provide teachers with resources to do the job. These include textbooks, work books, online supplements and consumables-tools we need to get the job done," she added.
The district also must establish professional development offerings and training that is aligned with Common Core expectations, she said.
They need to look for new staff members who have higher degree credentials such as master's degrees in content to teach dual credit and AP courses. The district must also pay staff members for years of experience, she said.
Minor said the district needs to investigate ways to apply teaching strategies that are aligned to the best practices for online and blended methods.
The district must provide teachers with a system for collaboration such as the Professional Learning Communities model, which allows teachers to determine how students are learning, what to do if they are not learning and similar items, she added.
These items will help the district make decisions, she said.
Value of AP classes noted
Minor noted the value to students of participating in AP courses.
She said only 17 percent of students who took no AP classes in high school will graduate from college within five years, compared to 37 percent who took at least one AP course but did not take an AP exam.
She added that 42 percent of students who took at least one AP course and took the exam but not did not pass it (scoring 1 or 2), will graduate from college within five years.
And 64 percent of students taking at least one AP course and passing the AP_exam, will graduate from college within five years.
Minor noted that the number of the district's students taking AP courses increased by 364 from 2008-09 through 2012-13 and is expected to be 685 for the 2013-14 year.
Over the same time period the number taking an AP exam increased by 223, going from 187 in 2008-09 to 410 in 2012-13.
The percentage of students scoring 3 or higher on the AP tests went from 70 in 2008-09 to 808 in 2012-13, she said.
She said students took nearly three times as many AP courses this year as they did in 2008-09. The number went from 405 to 1,100.
Almost three times as many students took AP exams over the past five years, going from 234 in 2008-09 to 661 in 2012-13.
Minor noted that out of the 1,405 sophomores, juniors and seniors at Oswego East, 13.7 percent or 193 of them took AP exams. And they received passing scores on 216 (67.7 percent) of the 319 exams they took.
At Oswego High, out of the 1,791 sophomores, juniors and seniors, 177 or 12.1 percent took AP exams. And on 296 of the 341 exams, students earned passing scores on 86.8 percent of them, Minor said.
The trend of students taking AP courses and passing AP exams has increased over the past five years. She noted that passing an AP exam often qualifies for college credit, which means students could save thousands of dollars in college tuition.
She noted that they may need more intervention with the students to help their scores, adding that only 68 percent of students are taking AP courses and exams for college credit. This number needs to increase, she added.
Minor said they need to increase AP courses for junior high and high school students as well as provide additional AP professional development and training for the administration and faculty. They also need to provide more enrichment support for students taking AP courses.
Minor said she will talk to the board in October about more ACT research and recommendations by school, department and student subgroups.
She also will discuss Annual Yearly Progress (AYP), school report cards, and present updates on Common Core and math team work.