ACT scores for class of 2009
Moffat County composite: 19.5
Colorado composite: 20.8
National composite: 21.1
PLAN scores for sophomores, October, 2008
Moffat County composite: 16.8
National Composite: 17.5
* All scores out of 36
When 2009 Moffat County High School graduates sat down in October to take the ACT test, they weren't just taking a required assessment.
For some students, their futures depended on their scores.
The graduates, two-thirds of whom went on to a two- or four-year college, scored an average of 19.5 on the ACT, which was 3 percent below the state average composite score of 20.8.
The ACT assesses students' ability to perform at a college level.
Local ACT scores have consistently risen since 2004, but so has the state average.
The SAT is also an option for college-bound students, however only 15 students elected to take it last year.
Paula Duzik, a Moffat County High School counselor, said more students take the ACT because that is what regional colleges prefer.
Assistant Superintendent Christine Villard said ACT scores from last school year were encouraging and showed that many students would be prepared for college curriculum.
"I haven't been very concerned, because we are following in the direction of the state average," Villard said.
About 10 years ago, Colorado made the test mandatory, while in other states it is reserved for college-bound students.
The test, which is required for juniors, is the 11th-grade version of the Colorado Student Assessment Program test, which means it has implications for Adequate Yearly Progress goals and district funding.
However, it also can be the make-or-break criteria for getting into a choice college.
For example, the average ACT score of a freshman at Colorado State University is 24. However, the number of non-college-bound students taking the test might bring down Moffat County's scores.
"I think the scores might be lower because we're testing all the students," Duzik said. "Some of them might not even want to go to college."
Still, she said she would like to see the sores closer to the state average.
While the state pays for students to take the ACT, the School District decided to pay for the PLAN test, a pre-ACT practice test for sophomores that is not mandated by the state.
Students don't receive instruction on either of the tests during class time, nor does the school offer preparation classes.
But, Duzik said there are many opportunities for students to score better on the PLAN and ACT tests.
"The curriculum is in place in Moffat County to have those higher test scores," Duzik said. "We encourage kids to push themselves into those higher tracks."
One highlight of the 2009 scores is the success of core students.
In the core track, students take four years of English and three years of math, science and social studies.
These students consistently performed two to four points higher than students who don't take all of the core requirements.
"It's proven that these core students do well on the ACT," Duzik said. "Hopefully, it's what we're teaching them that is reflected in the test."
Some students take the test repeatedly, and Duzik said students take the test much more seriously the second or third time around.
She said after juniors take the test the first time, many start to learn where their scores can take them in life.
"I tell them, 'This is Colorado's gift to you,'" she said. "'It's a free ACT, now show them what you can do.'"