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Numbers misrepresented in ACT article

Published: Friday, Aug. 29, 2014 11:16 a.m. CST

To the editor,

The Aug. 22 Newton Daily News article claiming Newton students excelled on ACT tests ignored these ACT numbers. Fifteen states beat Iowa in reading. Twenty-one states beat Iowa in math. Thirteen states out-scored Iowa in science. Sixteen states beat Iowa in English. Twenty-four states tested a higher percentage of students than Iowa. What is Newton bragging about? Bring on the numbers!

The claim that Iowa is among the top three nationally is proven false by the ACT website, showing 16 states outscoring Iowa on the most recent ACT results. Massachusetts had the top average score of 24.1 out of 36, for 66.9 percent. Iowa had an average of 22.1 out of 36, for 61.4 percent. Iowa’s average reading score was 22.5 out of 36, for 62.5 percent; the national average was 21.1 out of 36, for 58.6 percent. Iowa’s average math score was 21.6 out of 36, for 60 percent; the national average was 20.9 out of 36, for 58 percent. Iowa’s average science score was 22.2 out of 36, for 61.7 percent; the national average was 20.7 out of 36, for 57.5 percent. Iowa’s average English score was 21.5 out of 36, for 59.7 percent; the national average was 20.2 out of 36, for 56.1 percent. Of graduates tested, Iowa showed 66 percent; the national average was 54 percent.

According to ACT data, Iowa tested 22,546 graduates. Of these, only 32 percent met all of the benchmarks for college readiness. The English benchmark was 75 percent. The reading benchmark was 54 percent. The math benchmark was 50 percent. The science benchmark was 46 percent. What are Newton’s numbers? The public has a right to know. Why is the Newton Daily News failing to report this information?

According to the NCTQ, objective evidence of student learning is not used as a criteria for teacher evaluations. Iowa fails to ensure that elementary teachers are prepared to teach the rigorous Common Core standards. Students without grade level skills in all five reading concepts are at a disadvantage to progress in education up to grade level, demonstrated by Iowa’s inability to rise above the 41st NPR (when the 65th NPR represents grade level).

Thirty-eight states have shown improvement in teacher prep programs for teaching the Common Core; Iowa has failed to show improvement. It is up to school boards to insist school administrators upgrade their own poor teacher prep training to improve education decisions. By what criteria does the Newton school define “excellent”?

Sue Atkinson


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