Latest News – September 18

High Stakes for Lake County Students: Testing

By Joyce Rankin, State Board of Education, CD3

Joyce Formal sport coat

State Board Representative Joyce Rankin

During the August board meeting of the State Board of Education, the Colorado Department of Education released the Scholastic Aptitude Scores (SAT) for 2016-17. The SAT, is a standardized test that is administered by the College Board, a non-profit organization.  The test is used by colleges and universities to determine college readiness.

In 2016-17 the SAT was first introduced to Colorado eleventh grade students. The new test is reported to be more closely aligned to our state academic standards than previous tests. It can be taken by paper and pencil or by using a computer.  It also relies more on skill and less on “testing taking tricks” than other tests.

The SAT basically measures what a student has learned in “Math” and “Evidence Based Reading and Writing” (EBRW). In the past, Reading and Writing earned separate scores but the new SAT combines reading and writing scores. EBRW and Math scores range from 200 to 800 points. The total combined score range is, therefore, 400 to 1600.

What is a good SAT score?

Colorado requires all juniors to take the SAT test. We are one of eight states to do so.  Other states have choice options that may include the SAT. The average Colorado score for EBRW was 513.4 and 500.9 for Math.  A total combined score for the average student in Colorado was 1014.3.


The SAT Test – an unquestioned tradition?

Let’s look at a student who scored 1014 on the combined tests.  What schools can the student apply to and feel confident he will be accepted? One of our great Western Colorado schools admits students with a combined score between 990-1210 with the average score of accepted students at 1100. With a score of 1014 a student has a 97% chance of being admitted.  Harvard, in comparison, accepts students with a scores between 1470-1600, with an average admittance score of 1535. Your chances here would be very slim. A good SAT score, therefore, might be a score that would help you gain admittance into the college of your choice.

The SAT is considered to be a “high stakes” test for college bound students.  Of course, there are other, less expensive, career pathways to follow that allow students to enter, and be successful, in the workforce. It’s a matter of career choice, which may change, throughout a lifetime.

Joyce Rankin is on the State Board of Education representing the Third Congressional District, which includes the Lake County School District. She writes the monthly column, “Across the Street” to share with constituents in her district.  The Department of Education, where the State Board of Education meets, is located across the street from the Capitol. 

Leadville Students Test Well, Eat Well

Last spring, Lake County High School (LCHS) principal Ben Cairns made a promise to students. He promised he would treat any student who achieved a 90th percentile growth score in BOTH Math and ELA on The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), to dinner at Quincy’s Steakhouse in Leadville.

Quincys Steaks and Spirits was first opened in October of 1997 in the heart of historic Leadville. Photo: Quincys Tavern.

Students who did well in recent testing will be treated to a steak dinner at Quincy’s in downtown Leadville.

PARCC is a group of states partnered together to develop a set of common assessments for students. PARCC tests are aligned to the Common Core standards, which stress reading comprehension and critical thinking.

According to school district officials, at the time that Principal Cairns made the bet, he thought this would be 1-3 students – as this is a very difficult bar to reach. In fact, 13 LCHS students and another 9 Lake County Intermediate School students achieved it. The school district will be celebrating these students along with a guest of their choice to dinner at Quincy’s on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. It was also recently reported by the school district that the Leadville Legacy Foundation will actually be upholding the promise Cairns made, and picking up the tab for dinner, as they have come on board as a 90/90 sponsor.

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