Absarokee schools addressing ACT scores

Thursday, November 21, 2019

I would like to give further clarification on the Stillwater County News article on ACT tests scores in the Nov. 14 edition.

The ACT test score used in article is based solely on the spring ACT taken by all juniors.  While we did indeed have slightly below average scores on the test taken in 2018 by our Class of 2019, the scores improved 3.18 points for the class of 2020.

We don’t know all the reasons why we had a class perform poorly on one day on one test, but regardless, since the report was given to us last spring, the teachers, administration and board have put a great deal of effort into bringing these scores up even more. The plus side to this situation was we were given a grant from the Office of Public Instruction (OPI).

We were required to use the grant to hire an outside advisor to take a close look at the curriculum, teachers, and high school programs and make recommendations to our staff.

From his assessments, we have changed from a standard study hall to WIN time — the period before lunch where anyone with missing assignment, failing grades or in need of extra time works with the teachers of the subjects they are struggling with to catch up.

It gives all of our students’ access to all of our core teachers at one time. It is also benefits our advanced students working on advanced placement classes.

We have adopted a no cell phone policy to eliminate distractions and classes start with bell ringer questions of the day to get the students more accustomed to the rigor of questions they will see on statewide testing.

We were able to use part of our grant to buy MAPS skills program, which used with our MAPS testing, identifies individual student weaknesses and sets up lessons to work on the problem areas for each individual student.

Right now, we are working  with the middle school special education subpopulation, which we have identified as a group with extra needs. Those students receive a “double dose” of help during elective time.   

The MAPS skills also set up more complex problems to keep our advanced students challenged and engaged.  An ACT prep course is taught for any interested students in the summer and the Absarokee Community Foundation is willing to provide financial support to anyone wanting to take the ACT more than once.

I hate to see the value of a school being based on the results of one test, and you can imagine the results will vary considerably depending on the make-up of a class.

Regardless of how we got it, I think the grant we received has been invaluable and will help our school become even better.  Our new superintendent has a strong curriculum and special education background, which should be invaluable in moving the school forward.

 

Diana Scollard

Chairman, Absarokee School Board

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