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ACT scores drop at Colfax — and statewide

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX  —  Now that juniors also are required to take the ACT college readiness test, the average scores of juniors and seniors at Colfax High School — and statewide — were lower in 2016 than in 2015.

The Colfax Board of Education learned at the September 19 meeting that in addition to ACT scores dropping at Colfax and statewide, Colfax juniors and seniors also scored lower in the ACT than the statewide average.

Scoring lower than the state average is not necessarily, however, a negative reflection on the Colfax school district.

“Our scores, I would say, are respectable,” said Bill Yingst, district administrator.

Scores on the ACT are used to predict success in post-secondary education.

According to information provided to the school board, the 2016 ACT scores for Colfax students, with all juniors and seniors taking the test, are anywhere from two points to five points lower than the scores in 2015.

The state’s average scores on English, mathematics, reading, science and for the composite score are about two points lower in 2016 than in 2015.

In the past, instead of all high school juniors and seniors taking the ACT, only those students who were planning to go to college would take the ACT, Yingst said.

Polly Rudi, special education director and curriculum coordinator for the Colfax school district, noted Wisconsin ranks fourth in the nation when all of the students take the ACT.

Test takers

In 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, the number of Colfax students who took the ACT ranged from 30 to 36.

In 2016, with all of the juniors and seniors taking the test, the total number tested doubled to 71.

On the state level, from 2012 to 2015, approximately 46,000 to 47,000 students took the ACT.

In 2016, with all juniors and seniors taking the test, the statewide number of students tested rose to 66,564.

In English, Colfax students scored 17.2, compared to 19.7 statewide.

In mathematics, Colfax students scored 19.1 compared to 20.4 statewide.

In reading, students at Colfax scored 17.9 compared to 20.7 statewide.

And in science, Colfax students scored 17.9 compared to 20.7 statewide.

On the composite score, Colfax students came in at 18.2, while statewide, the average composite score was 20.5.

Benchmarks

Benchmark scores, which are considered the minimum score needed on an ACT subject area test to indicate a 50 percent chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75 percent chance of obtaining a C or higher in college courses, include 18 on ACT English, 22 on ACT mathematics, and 23 on ACT science.

According to information provided to the Colfax school board, out of those students who took the ACT, 45 percent tested ready for college-level coursework in English, compared to 60 percent statewide.

For college algebra, 34 percent of Colfax students who took the ACT are ready for college-level coursework in algebra, compared to 41 percent statewide.

For college social science (based on the ACT reading test score), 28 percent of Colfax students who took the test are ready for college-level coursework compared to 41 percent statewide.

For college biology, 17 percent of Colfax students who took the test were ready for college biology (based on the ACT science test), compared to 37 percent statewide.

For all four (English, algebra, social science and biology), 14 percent of Colfax students who took the ACT are ready for college-level coursework, compared to 25 percent statewide.

Math and science

Students at Colfax who took Algebra I and II, geometry, trigonometry and one other math class scored higher on the ACT math test at 23.3, compared to the statewide average of 22.1.

Colfax students who took Algebra I and II, geometry and trigonometry also scored higher at 20.5 than the statewide average of 19.6.

Colfax students who took fewer than three years of high school math scored 17 on the ACT math test, compared to 16.1 statewide.

Regarding ACT science scores, students at Colfax who took general science, biology, chemistry and physics scored 21.1 on the ACT science test, compared to 22.8 statewide.

Colfax students who took biology, chemistry and physics scored 22.5 on the ACT, compared to a score of 23.8 statewide.

Students at Colfax who took general science, biology and chemistry scored 17.1 on the ACT science test, compared to 20.4 statewide.

Among those students who took fewer than three years of science classes, Colfax students scored 15.9 on the ACT science test, compared to 17.5 statewide.

The college readiness letter for Colfax from ACT was dated August 24, 2016.