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Janesville ACT scores show improvement

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
August 18, 2011
— Janesville high school teachers can point to positive results after they adjusted their teaching last year.

The improvement came among college-bound seniors in the classes of 2011 at Craig and Parker high schools. Both sets of seniors did better on their ACT tests than seniors from the previous year.


Craig seniors scored higher than the state average, the first time they’ve done that in more than five years.


The state average was third best in the nation among states where most students take the ACT.


Parker’s average ACT score trailed the state average, but it improved from the previous year and edged closer to the state average.


And for the first time in five years, the Parker average does not trail the national average.


Last years’ ACT scores were disappointing.


“We need to have more rigor in programs,” district Director of Instruction Kim Ehrhardt said at the time.


Ehrhardt said Wednesday that he’s pleased with the improvement. He attributed it to a focus on high school teaching in math, science, social studies and English, especially in the Advanced Placement classes.


Ehrhardt said he believes teachers’ efforts will show up even more strongly with the Class of 2012.


The effort that started a year ago includes:


-- Shifting the curriculum to align more closely with college-readiness standards, which in turn are aligned with the ACT tests, Ehrhardt said. A model curriculum called Align by Design is being used.


-- Having teachers analyze ACT data for their schools in an effort to pinpoint areas that needed improving.


-- Teaching test-taking strategies specific to the ACT in each subject and having students practice those strategies.


-- Beginning each class with a question posed in ACT style so students would feel comfortable when then encounter similar questions on the test.


-- Sending some teachers to an ACT conference last February.


Ehrhardt said he hadn’t analyzed the test data in depth yet, but a quick look showed the district has room for improvement among its minority students.


Data posted on the state Department of Public Instruction website shows Hispanic students scoring well behind white students.


Numbers of black students who took the ACT are so few that their test results are not posted out of concern that someone could deduce individual students’ performance.


Statewide, 60.4 percent of seniors took the ACT. Compare that to Craig at 66.2 percent and Parker at 62.4 percent.


The number of test-takers is an indicator of how many students aspired to go to college.


Only five of the district’s 30 black seniors took the ACT.


Nineteen of the district’s 61 Hispanic seniors took the test, for an average composite score of 19.1.


Eighteen of 24 seniors of Asian descent took the test for an average composite of 22.1. None of the four American Indian students took the test.


A new minority category this year is “two or more races.” Ten members of the 37 students who identified themselves as multiracial took the test, for an average score of 22.2.


The 430 whites who took the test represent 61 percent of the district’s white seniors. They scored an average of 21.8.


Thirteen students who did not identify themselves by race or ethnicity scored the highest of any of the subgroups at 23.8.



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