While there are many factors that have affected ACT scores of Carson high school students, everybody at Tuesday’s board meeting agreed on one fact: those scores need to improve.
Only 22 percent of Carson High juniors in 2014-2015 who stated they were taking college prep courses, which the ACT test covers, were able to post benchmark scores in all four areas of the exam. The ACT test is one of the two main college entrance exams that’s used along with the SAT.
A benchmark score is basically the score in which students would be able to pass a freshman-level college course that’s not a remedial class. For English, that score is 18, which means students who have a score of at least 18 would have a 50 percent chance of earning a “B” and a 75 percent chance of earning a “C” in the corresponding class. Benchmark scores in math and social science are 22 and 23 in science.
Dr. Richard Medina, director of assessment and accountability for Carson City Schools, who presented the data summarized how everyone felt about the results.
“We know the scores are low and not where they should be,” he said.
It should be noted 2014-2015 was the first year in which all juniors were required to take the ACT. Of the more than 500 juniors who took the ACT, 33 percent reached the benchmark in English, 23 percent reached it in math, 25 percent reached it in social science, 18 percent reached it in science and 12 percent reached it in all four areas.
While those scores needed improvement, Carson juniors actually exceeded the state average for those who reached the benchmark, with the exception of English. The state average was 35 percent for English, 20 percent for math, 23 percent for social science, 16 percent for science and 10 percent for all four areas.
At CHS, 241 juniors stated they were taking the core courses necessary for the ACT while 269 said they weren’t. Of the students who said they were taking the core classes, 51 percent met the benchmark in English, 38 percent met it in math, 41 percent in social science, 31 percent in science and 22 percent in all four areas.
Of the students who said they weren’t taking the core classes, the results were not surprisingly much lower, with 26 percent meeting the benchmark in English, 11 percent in math, 12 percent in social science, 8 percent in science and just 4 percent in all areas.
It’s understandable the ACT scores of all juniors who took the test for the first time would be lower than the scores from students, presumably the vast majority being seniors, who took the test in the past.
In 2013-2014, 114 CHS students took the ACT. Carson High Principal Tasha Fuson noted many CHS students also take the SAT. But of the 114 students who took the ACT in 2013-2014, only 39 percent were able to reach the benchmark in all four areas, although that was well above the state average of 26 percent.
And more than half of those students reached the benchmark in each one of the four areas, exceeding the state average in each one: English — 71-65; math — 71-46; social science — 61-47; science — 52-37.
Officials stated recommendations have been taken to improve the ACT scores including more students taking core classes for the ACT and making sure those courses are rigorous enough.
Fuson also noted this year’s junior class is the first class that has had a tougher realigned math and science curriculum, so the ACT scores should improve this year. She also said steps have been taken so the number of seniors in this year’s class who took the ACT last year who are going to need to take remedial college classes is going to decline.