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Montezuma-Cortez surpasses English SAT benchmark

School district aims to improve math scores

Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 District students fell short of the state’s average English SAT score of 513.4, coming in at an average of 490.5.

Students taking the PSAT left a slightly larger margin in English, with an average score of 442.7, compared with the state’s average of 478.

But students surpassed the Colorado benchmark for the English SAT, which helps to gauge whether students are ready for college.

At its monthly meeting Tuesday night, Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 District School Board Discussed PSAT and SAT test results.

“That was a very significant switch,” Lori Haukeness, Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 District superintendent, said. “I know the teachers were being very thoughtful in the change of the assessment.”

“We are very pleased with the ELA SAT scores,” Haukeness said.

The Colorado Department of Education released the test scores on Aug. 17. It also released the benchmark scores for SAT performance, which help show if students are on track for college-level courses.

For example, the math benchmark of 530 is the SAT math score associated with a 75 percent chance of a student earning a C-grade in a first-semester college-level class in algebra, statistics, precalculus or calculus. The benchmark score of 480 for reading and writing is associated with a 75 percent chance of earning at least a C in first-semester courses in history, literature, social science or writing.

Statewide, 61 percent of students were on pace to be college-ready in English, and 40 percent in math, according to the SAT results.

At Montezuma-Cortez High School, 55 percent of Re-1 students are college-ready in English, and 27 percent are college-ready in math.

“The benchmark for ELA (English language arts) in SAT is 480, and we did meet that at 490.5, so we exceeded that benchmark for reading and writing,” said Jeanette Allen, director of curriculum and instruction in the school district.

Similar to its results in the Colorado Measures of Academic Success PARCC tests, the Montezuma-Cortez district scored significantly lower in math than the rest of the state.

The district’s composite score in math was 470, compared with the state’s 500.9. Similarly, the district’s average score in math on the PSAT was 429.8, while the state average was 469.

Colorado switched from testing students with the ACT to using the PSAT and SAT this year.

The low scores could be attributed to the change of tests.

“I know the math teachers were expecting a higher gain,” Haukeness said. “But they were also very thoughtful in the different way the questions had been written and how students are being assessed.”

According to Haukeness, the results can help educators see where their students are struggling and base their teaching methods on the results.

“The high school math department has already started working on addressing how to align instruction to the SAT with the change from the ACT to the SAT test.”

“If we look nationally, kids are meeting those career- and college-ready benchmarks in ELA,” Haukeness said. “Even though we are comparable to some degree to the state in math, we still have some work to do in getting career- and college-ready. But we are making some gains in ELA areas.”

Area high schools

Overall average composite PSAT scores in 2017 compared with 2016. The highest score on the SAT is 1,600, and the highest score on the PSAT is 1,520. Mandatory SATs weren’t taken last year.

High school PSAT scores

(2017 versus 2016 scores)

State: 947, up 3 from 944.

Montezuma-Cortez: 872.4, down 62.1 from 934.5

Dolores: 901.3, down 12.8 from 914

Mancos: 905.7, down 35 from 940.7

High school SAT scores

(No 2016 scores)

State: 1,014.3

Montezuma-Cortez: 960.5

DoloreS: 996.7

Mancos: 1,008.8

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