With the junior year of high school comes a test that some believe will determine their chance of getting a higher education. This year, juniors in …
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With the junior year of high school comes a test that some believe will determine their chance of getting a higher education. This year, juniors in Jefferson County outperformed their peers around the state on the ACT test, with some Jeffco students earning the highest scores in Colorado.
The Colorado Department of Education released the 2012 ACT scores last week.
On a 36-point scale, the average score in the state of Colorado was 20.0, with Jeffco Public Schools students averaging 21.1. Individual schools outscored the state by much more.
Students at D’Evelyn Junior and Senior High School in Denver earned the highest average score in the district with a score of 27.4. The school has performed best in the district for the past 11 years, and although some students take prep courses outside of the districts, D’Evelyn Principal Terry Elliot attributes most of their success to work in district classrooms starting in ninth grade.
“That’s why they come to school every day,” Elliot said.
He said building the students’ content knowledge is achieved in the curriculum and practicing skills in class. students are required to take biology, chemistry and physics, he said, which means they go into the test with knowledge of three science branches.
Students are taught geometry and algebra in an integrated class over a three-year period, so they should have a good working math knowledge when they take the test.
The week before the ACT, which is generally taken in the third week of April, the school holds a two-day, after-school seminar to help students learn how to take the test most effectively.
“That’s really just getting them prepared for what to expect, how the test works and strategies,” Elliot said.
He said he believes the 11-year record of achieving the highest score is a motivator for students to do well, so they are not the class to break the legacy.
Jefferson High School Principal Mike Little said he has seen great improvements in the number of students taking the ACT at his school in the last five years. He said the numbers went from only a handful taking the test, to almost full participation by the junior class.
Jefferson also has several programs in place at the school for students to prepare for the test.
“My kids cannot afford to buy special prep programs, so we do a lot inside the classroom and inside the curriculum to prepare kids,” Little said.
One of the programs is Avid, which identifies students who have a grade-point average between 2.5 and 3.2. These are the students who are wondering if they can get into college, Little said.
Avid is an elective program that begins with the freshman year of high school and helps students prepare for the ACT through course selection and strategies. In the last five years the program went from having 20 students to almost 120 students enrolled this year.
The Ascent program is another program aimed at preparing Jefferson students for college. Students who pass the college readiness test in the 10th grade are then allowed to take some college-level courses at Jefferson with teachers who have earned credentials to teach at that level. Materials are provided, and students are able to earn college credit while still in high school.
Little said once the students get a couple of college courses under their belt, the idea of going to college after high school seems much more achievable.
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