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Cannelton students add ACT to other testing gains

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Sibbitt: Seniors pull ahead of state composite average

By KEVIN KOELLING
Managing Editor

CANNELTON – In addition to improved scores on Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress reported Sept. 26, Cannelton students are making gains on ACT tests.

“In 2013, we had eight seniors take the ACT,” Schools Superintendent Alva Sibbitt said at a regular school-board meeting Sept. 19. “Their composite score was 21.9, which is above the state average of 21.7 for 2013. To the best of (Academic Dean Dan) Freed’s knowledge, since he has been here as counselor, this is the first time the ACT composite score of seniors has been above the state average. This is certainly a step in the right direction and a tremendous improvement from the … scores of 17.7 in 2009, 19.1 in 2010, 18.8 in 2011 and 20.7 in 2012.”

The first three of those years “were substantially below the state average and these last two years, the overall group has been a little bit below but the seniors have been above,” Sibbitt continued. “We are trying to emphasize academics here and trying to teach what the state has prescribed as far as teaching the benchmarks. The teachers are on task, and I think that’s one reason the scores have improved. I think the atmosphere here the last couple of years has really

emphasized academics, and we’re making that a priority here.”

Five-year results

The superintendent provided copies of an Aug. 21 report from the organization originally known as American College Testing that shows percentages of students who its tests have identified over a five-year period as ready for college-level courses.

The nonprofit agency reports it developed “college-readiness benchmark scores” through collaborative research with postsecondary institutions nationwide. It defined them as “the minimum score needed on an ACT subject-area test to indicate a 50-percent chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75-percent chance of obtaining a C or higher in the corresponding credit-bearing college courses.” For English composition, that score is 18. It’s 22 for math and social science, the latter from the reading test, and 23 for science.

Nine students from the Class of 2009 took the tests and earned an average score of 16.2 versus the state average of 21.6 on the English portion. Cannelton’s scores rose to 18.0 the next two years against state averages of 21.7. The state figure remained the same for 2012 while Cannelton edged upward 2.3 points, and for 2013 Cannelton dropped to 19.7 versus a state average of 21.0.

Cannelton’s math results were 16.7, 18.9 and 18.5 in 2009, 2010 and 2011, respectively, while state scores remained at 22.4. Hoosier students raised their score by one-tenth of a point for 2012, when Cannelton’s average was 20.8.

Both Cannelton and statewide numbers fell from there for this year, to 18.4 and 21.9, respectively.

In reading, the state averages remained at 22.6 from 2009 to 2012, while Cannelton registered averages of 18.7, 19.2, 19.1 and 21.2. The state average dropped half a point for this year, and Cannelton’s dropped one-tenth of a point. Statewide science scores rose from 21.6 in 2009 to 21.9 the next three years, then dropped to 21.4.

Over the same period, Cannelton averaged 18.0, 19.7, 19.0, 19.7 and 20.7.

Unpacking apples from oranges

The numbers Sibbitt provided are for seniors, he explained, while those from the ACT report reflect scores achieved by all of the students who took the tests, which often include lower grades.

“Sometimes you have sophomores take the ACT,” he said. “Some schools go down as low as the eighth grade. I don’t know why they would, but some schools do, especially in your wealthy suburb areas.”

“What are ACT scores used for?” Sibbitt asked. “Same as SAT scores. They’re used to grant academic scholarships, or at least that’s a factor. Your ACT (scores), plus your grade-point average and where you rank in (your) class are primarily used for academic scholarships … the higher we can get our ACTs, the better off our students are going to be.”