Moffat County High School requiring more math and science from students

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Courtesy of MCHS

A chart outlining graduation requirements from Moffat County High School

— Moffat County High School has begun the process of increasing math and science graduation requirements for its students in an attempt to better prepare them for life after high school.

The new requirements will be implemented with incoming freshman classes throughout the next few years. This year’s freshmen require an additional course in math and science as well as an additional elective in order to graduate. By 2016, students will be required to take three math credits.

The increased requirements have support from Moffat County School District administration and the school board.

“We absolutely are endorsing it,” Superintendent Dr. Joe Petrone said. “The faculty recommended it and the administration is supporting their recommendation.”

Math and science have seen less than impressive scores on TCAP and the ACT in the past few years, with those students qualifying as proficient and advanced in math dipping far below 50 percent.

Last year’s 10th-grade math TCAP scores fell from 25 percent to 19 percent of students who scored proficient or advanced; only 3 percent qualified as advanced. The state average of proficient or above in math is about 56 percent.

Last year’s ninth-grade math TCAP scores rose to 34 percent from 25 percent the previous year. Twenty-five percent qualified as proficient, while 9 percent scored advanced.

Only students in 10th grade are required to take the high school science TCAP. The percentage of proficient and advanced MCHS students rose to 47 percent in 2012 from 44 percent in 2011.

Last year’s ACT scores were no more encouraging than the TCAP scores. The average composite score for the high school was an 18.2 out of a possible 36. The score was down slightly from 2011’s average of 18.6.

A college readiness benchmark score is assigned to all ACT areas by the national ACT organization. Reaching the benchmark score indicates a 50 percent chance of obtaining a B or higher or a 75 percent chance of a C or higher in a correlating college course.

The benchmark scores for 2012 are as follows: English, 18; math, 22; reading, 21; and science, 24.

Average math and science scores for 2012 were 18, while average math and science scores in 2011 were 18 and 19, respectively.

In a letter to parents from the high school, the importance of adding science and math requirements in relation to ACT scores is cited. The difference between students with a core enriched schedule and those taking the bare minimum non-enriched schedule can create a four-point difference on the ACT.

“This means serious opportunities are lost for our students as a result of not being a little more rigorous,” MCHS Principal Thom Schnellinger said.

Petrone said administration felt increased rigor was absolutely the right thing to do for students considering higher expectations for math and science in college and the workplace.

Schnellinger said he has the personnel in the math department to handle increased courses and will be hiring for a science position. He hopes to see more students coming from Craig Middle School taking Algebra 1 rather than Pre-Algebra. He’s also looking into honors and Advanced Placement classes.

“We want students to step out a little bit and take on these challenging courses,” Schnellinger said. “We’ll reward the risk with weighted grades in those classes.”

Schnellinger said the tougher graduation requirements come as part of the district’s and high school’s focus to develop more rigorous curriculum in all content areas.

“Even the Understanding by Design curriculum piece is focused on a higher-quality lesson and higher engagement with the student,” Schnellinger said. “It’s all flowing the same way.”

Darian Warden can be reached at 970-875-1793 or dwarden@craigdailypress.com

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