Animas High students test well in language arts

Ninth-graders improve math scores

Standardized test results show a proficiency across grade levels in language arts at Animas High School. In ninth grade, students improved their scores in mathematics. Enlarge photo

Associated Press file

Standardized test results show a proficiency across grade levels in language arts at Animas High School. In ninth grade, students improved their scores in mathematics.

Animas High School’s standardized test results show a proficiency across grade levels in language arts and an improvement in ninth-grade mathematics.

Overall, students tested above-average on the SATs, about average on the PSATs and showed areas of improvement on the CMAS exam.

Head of School Sean Woytek said the school places more importance on the PSAT and SAT, rather than on the CMAS.

“One of the reasons for that is student buy-in,” he said. “This past year, we actually had the least amount of opt-outs. We typically do not have a whole lot of students and families that value the CMAS.”

A CMAS growth report recently released by the Colorado Department of Education shows the school’s growth percentile, which breaks down student progress from year to year.

The school’s ninth-graders scored in the 58th percentile in mathematics, a 20 point jump from the previous year.

“Our math department went through an overhaul last year, and some of that translated to better CMAS scores,” Woytek said. “With students now really digging into inquiry-based math, they understand it on a deeper level. Our switch is helping students wrap their minds around the concept.”

Tenth-grade students took PSATs. They tested above statewide average on the reading and writing portion of the PSAT, and below statewide average in mathematics.

They scored an average of 492 in reading and writing, and 446.6 in mathematics. The statewide average for PSAT scores was 478 in reading and writing, and 469 in mathematics.

Eleventh-graders took the SAT college entrance exam, which is now a state requirement.

They did significantly better than their peers on the SAT, scoring an average of 550.7 in reading and writing, and 505.4 in mathematics.

The average statewide SAT score was 513 in reading and writing, and 501 in mathematics.

Woytek credits the school’s humanities department for their above-average language arts scores.

“We’ve had really high English and reading scores, previously with ACT and now on the SAT,” he said. “A big part of this is our humanities department. We haven’t had much turnover. When teachers come back year after year, they get better at their craft.”

The school aims to improve students’ understanding of mathematics and continue working to better their language arts skills.

“Math is always a big question for us. Ever since the school started, our math scores have been lower than our humanities and science scores,” Woytek said. “Even though our humanities scores were good, we want to improve on that.”

Woytek said senior humanities teacher Lori Fisher frequently meets with writing faculty at Fort Lewis College to ensure Animas High students are on-track to college.

“Students’ last high school essay is graded at a college level,” he said. “We have a good relationship with Fort Lewis, and work with them to make sure our students are prepared to go to college.”

Still, Woytek acknowledged that exam results are not always a good correlation for student success in college.

“Test scores are important, but we let our students know that they are not the be-all-end-all,” he said. “But at the same time, we tell them that if they do well, it can open a lot of doors for them.”

mrupani@durangoherald.com

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