Archive for Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lawrence students exceed state and national averages on ACT scores

Unlike others in state and across nation, Lawrence results show improvement

August 19, 2009


While ACT scores nationally remained the same and scores across Kansas slightly declined, Lawrence students improved their scores for the 2008-2009 school year.

Last year, 530 students at both Lawrence High and Free State High took the ACT test, which is scored on a scale of 1 to 36.

The Lawrence average went from 23.3 in 2007-2008 to 23.5. Lawrence High’s average score was 23.2, while Free State’s average was 23.7. The national average score is 21.1; the Kansas average is 21.9

“I think it is verification of the efforts that we’ve made in our school improvement process recently, focusing on individual students,” Superintendent Rick Doll said. “I think it maintains our high tradition, our strong tradition of preparing kids for post-secondary school.”

The ACT areas include English, math, reading and science. It’s designed to measure the skills needed for a student’s first year in college.

“It’s the best indicator we have of how well we are preparing kids. Obviously, we show pretty favorably when compared to others,” Doll said. “We congratulate our kids not only on their scores, but for taking a rigorous curriculum.”


Jimo 8 years, 8 months ago

Great. But the big headline is: "Only about a quarter of the 2009 high school graduates taking the ACT admissions test have the skills to succeed in college." So Lawrence students are "above average" relative to a piss-poor average.

Let's not pat ourselves on the back. A wealthy nation cannot expect to maintain that wealth when its educational system fails to deliver results. I congratulate those students who did great on the exam but question why there aren't many more of them in a community with all the advantages Lawrence provides its youth.

KU_cynic 8 years, 8 months ago

Among the primary determinants of a student's performance on such tests are parental achievement, wealth, and other indicators of family commitment to education.

Lawrence fares better than average on some such positive indicators (e.g., the number of college graduates among parents) and on some negative indicators (poverty, social demographics that otherwise correlate with poor academic acheivement).

So is it really all that surprising that Lawrewnce students earn an extra point or two higher than the Kansas average? No. And if anything, slightly higher than average student achievement reflects well on Lawrence families more than the school system per se.

Swap the Lawrence student population for that of similarly sized yet seemingly slightly under-performing school district and the Lawrence students would still perform above average and the swapped in students would still perform below average.

It's pure hubris to think that the school district staff and teachers -- as dedicated as they are -- really make a material difference compared to similar teachers who have to deal with a more challenging pool of students from less advantaged families.

kugrad 8 years, 8 months ago

Lawrence teachers deal with plenty of students of low SES status. There is no magic formula for achieving success with all students, but scores at some Lawrence elementaries with very significant low SES populations show upward trends in both reading and math achievment over the last several years. These kids will work their way through the system and we should eventually see even more improvement. The idea that Lawrence students are not challenging and all come from "advantaged" families is wrong. Most communities have broad diversity and Lawrence is no different. It is not "pure hubris" to think district staff and teachers make a difference. The quality of the classroom teachers in any school system makes all the difference in the world. To argue that teachers should not be congratulated on their achievment because the kids here are somehow more advantaged than in other communities is to make an argument unsupported by fact.

Jimo 8 years, 8 months ago

kugrad: "The idea that Lawrence students are not challenging and all come from “advantaged” families is wrong."

I guess the merit of this statement turns on the word "all."

No person with the slightest connection to reality could deny that Lawrence lies near the top of advantaged districts in this state. That the school district manages to perform "above average" is about as special as having five fingers to a hand - each finger is treasured and none is to be taken for granted but alternately they're not exactly the product of some excess of pedagogical achievement either.

Again, overall, ACT students are woefully unprepared for college. Lawrence ACT students are only a bit better than the average. Talk of improving trends and "broad diversity," besides being insulting, is making excuses for an underperforming educational system.

davidsmom 8 years, 8 months ago

I have always thought that 23-24 was a very low score. My middle son, currently a KU student, took the ACT 3 times - spring of his freshman year he scored 28, sophomore year a 29, and junior year a 30. He probably would have scored better had he bothered to study the test booklet and answer sheet. If the U.S. is going to be competitive with the rest of the world, we have to quit patting ourselves on the back for scores of 23 or 24 and figure out why we aren't averaging a lot higher.

KU_cynic 8 years, 8 months ago

The story is about the average ACT score.

I believe it to be a fact that the "average" Lawrence school district student reflects a demographic and family lifestyle profile predicting above average test score performance.

I'm not running down Lawrence teachers, just wanting to allocate credit for the above average ACT scores to its most likely source: the students' families.

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 8 months ago

Let's hear it for the students who took the test, and the teachers who helped them achieve that. If you want your child to be more successful, You need to be more involved. Bottom line.

labmonkey 8 years, 8 months ago

I bet davidsmom has one of those stupid "My child is an honor student at ..." stickers on her car.

It is actually the students who score 23-24 on the ACT and who had to study to get straight A's that are more prepared for college than anybody. Those who got 29-30 and didn't have to study in high school usually have a tougher time in college.

KU-cynic is correct...the more family support you have, the more likely you are to succeed.

saraheckman 8 years, 8 months ago

I agree with lab monkey. I got a 29 on the ACT my sophomore year, but was ill prepared for college because I never had to study in high school.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.