New formula equals higher ACT scores

A new formula for calculating average ACT scores in Colorado led the state and School District 51 each to set records this year for highest average ACT score in the 10 years the Colorado Department of Education has released such data.

The average ACT composite score in District 51 was 19.2 out of 36 this year, up from a previous high of 19 the preceding year. Only ACT tests taken by 11th-graders in April, the month when every 11th-grader in the state is required to take the exam, were included.

The average ACT score in the state this year was 19.9, topping the previous record of 19.6 in 2009 and jumping half a point from 2010’s average.

In all previous years, both valid and invalid exams, which were counted as zeros, were used to calculate average ACT scores. That changed this year, when zeros from the 1,335 tests invalidated statewide were left out. The state would have had an average score of 19.4 again this year if those invalidated tests had been included.

The education department did not release invalidations by district or the averages they would have under the old formula.

The only District 51 school to beat the average this year was Mesa Valley Vision Home and Community Program, which supports homeschooled children. The Vision program’s average score was 21.8.

Fruita Monument and Palisade high schools led the district’s traditional high schools with matching average composite scores of 19.8. Grand Junction High School had an average score of 19.5 ,and Central had an average score of 18.2. Alternative R-5 High had a score of 14.5.

District 51 Executive Director of High Schools Bill Larsen said he’s not surprised Fruita and Palisade did well this year because they have grown their advanced placement and International Baccalaureate classes.

“Grand Junction had a grant to expand its AP programming, but a lot of those courses were for younger students. It’s early to say what their impact will be,” Larsen said.

The district’s highest scores came in science, averaging 19.4. Reading and math had averages of 19.3 and 19.2, respectively.

The average English score decreased two-tenths of a point year-over-year to 18.1 in 2011. Larsen hopes a change in coursework that requires 11th-graders in 2013–14 to take a full year of English instead of one semester and a semester of speech will increase ACT English scores.


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