|The last time Custer County schools enrollment topped 400 students was in the 2013-2014 academic year, when the October 1 figure was holding at 411. If the current figure of 401 holds for the October 1 report to the state, the district is indeed headed back—in this case, the right direction.
Another hinge on which academics swing statewide is the measure of high school student preparedness for college. After many years of participating in the ACT testing program, the state has now shifted to the SATs. However, the state released the last year of ACT results for the district and the state just last Thursday, and there is some good news to report for the academic achievement and progression of district students.
While the 24 district ACT test takers fell just a point or fractionally more off the state averages in English, Mathematics, and Reading, they came in above the average in Science. This resulted in a composite 20.2 score, as compared to the statewide 20.8 composite score for all academic areas.
The so-called “college readiness benchmark scores” are also indicative of student growth. These scores are the minimum determined to be needed to obtain a B or higher (50 percent chance), and C or higher (75 percent chance) in the corresponding credit-bearing college courses. Almost half of the district test takers were determined to meet those expectations in Algebra, Social Science, and Biology, while slightly more than half met English Composition standards.
ACT research has also been able to show that it is the rigor of high school course work, not merely the number of core courses taken, that has the greatest impact on college readiness. In all areas researched—Algebra 1 and 2, Geometry, Trigonometry, General Science, Biology, and Chemistry—district students are scoring higher than state averages.
Finally, it can be noted that in all test areas, the 2017 students trended upwards from the district’s 2016 students—again, a move in the right direction.
– W.A. Ewing