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Standardized Testing at AHS for 2017-18



Dear Osprey Students and Families,

At Animas High School, we use a multifaceted approach to assess student learning; in addition to traditional methods such as papers, quizzes and exams, our assessment toolbox includes innovative strategies like Exhibitions, Student-Led Conferences and Presentations of Learning.  We strive for authentic assessment in our work with students, emphasizing real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential skills and knowledge, in front of authentic audiences.

Standardized tests are a piece of the assessment puzzle, too, as they provide data that helps us examine student growth and how we’re doing as a school.  The SAT and ACT play an important role in determining college options for our students, and we are pleased that our students’ scores on the SAT are “significantly better than their peers,” as reported in this recent article in The Durango Herald.

The Colorado Department of Education requires that all public schools administer certain standardized tests at specific grade levels each school year.  Each year, we see some shifts in which tests we administer to our students, and we want to be sure to keep you all up to date.  The world of standardized testing is filled with acronyms and can be a bit challenging to navigate, but we’re here to help, and we’re happy to answer questions as you make your way through it all.

2017-18 Standardized Tests per Grade Level

This year, our 9th graders will take PSAT8/9 on April 10, which will take about 3 hours for students to complete.

Our 10th graders will take the PSAT10 on April 10, which will take approximately 3.75 hours.  Sophomores also have the option to take the PSAT/NMSQT at AHS with the juniors on October 11, though this is certainly not required.  Those who are interested in this option should register with Dusty Grannis, our IT Director and Assessment Coordinator.  There will be a $14 fee which the individual family will need to pay.   We have limited spots available for sophomores, and will fill them on a first-come-first-served basis.

Our 11th graders will take the PSAT/NMSQT on October 11 and the SAT on April 10.  The PSAT will take approximately 2.75 hours, and the SAT will be about 3 hours long.  For juniors, PSAT scores are used to determine qualification for the National Merit Scholarship.  Juniors will also take the CMAS Science tests on April 17; the CMAS exam is about 4 hours long.

We do not plan to administer any standardized tests for our 12th graders.

In addition, we will administer the ACCESS language proficiency assessment to our English Language Learners January 8 through February 9.

All of these assessments will be administered online rather than with pencil and paper; we have determined, in consultation with staff and parents, that this is the most efficient and effective method and the AHS Board of Directors has approved this decision.  There is no cost to families for any of these tests, with the exception of sophomores who choose to take the PSAT/NMSQT on October 11.  All tests listed above will be administered during regular school hours on campus.

Preparing for the Tests

Statistically speaking, our students perform above state and national averages on college entrance exams, and we believe that being engaged in their learning is a key contributing factor.  Our teachers are intentional in the way they teach content and skills that the ACT and SAT measure, and this has proven to be successful.

That said, there are many resources available for students to do independent preparation beyond what we offer during the school day at AHS, some for free and some with a cost attached.  Kahn Academy has partnered with College Board to offer online test prep that is free and personalized; you can access that here.  For more resources, visit the Assessment page on the AHS website here or the “testing” tab on AHS College Counselor Jess Adams’ digital portfolio here.

Being familiar with the format of the test and doing a few practice tests ahead of time can help students improve their scores.  Arriving on the day of testing well rested and fed, helps, too!

Accessing and Understanding Individual Test Scores

The fastest way to access PSAT and SAT scores is by creating student accounts on the College Board website and then checking there about three weeks after taking the exam.  Students will always receive scores before the school does for college entrance exams.

Students and families can access individual scores for standardized tests through Infinite Campus, under the assessment tab.  To learn more about how to interpret scores, you may:

  • Visit the College Board website for PSAT10, PSAT/NMSQT and SAT
  • Visit the ACT website
  • Attend the Junior College Night on September 27 from 5:30 to 7:30 or the Freshman/Sophomore College Night on October 25 from 5:30 to 7:30 with AHS College Counselor Jess Adams  
  • Email our Assessment Coordinator, Dusty Grannis at tech@animashighschool.com for individual reports for last year’s PARCC or CMAS exams

In addition, once we receive paper scores for October’s PSAT/NMSQT, we will share those with juniors in advisory.

Opting Out

We recognize that some families have strong feelings about standardized testing and choose to opt out of them.  It’s important to understand the impact of opting out of standardized tests.  For students, taking the tests that lead up to the SAT can help improve their performance and scores, as they become more familiar with the format and practice the skill of test taking.  Most colleges rely on the SAT and/or ACT scores in determining college admission, and we take seriously our goal of preparing all students for college and postsecondary success.  That said, we also want to be clear that no students or family will face negative consequences from the school for opting out of state assessments.  We recognize and respect that this is a decision you will each make individually, and only ask that you make an informed choice.  

If you do choose to opt out, please submit a letter expressing your decision to the Main Office, signed by a parent/guardian.  Parent refusal notices will be gathered and maintained by Libby Cowles, Assistant Head of School.

We will keep you posted if we make any changes or additions to the testing schedule outlined here.  As always, please don’t hesitate to share your questions, thoughts and concerns with us.

 

*Updated 10-5-17