Springfield ACT scores come up short: 'We've got to close that gap'

Springfield ACT scores come up short: 'We've got to close that gap'

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Oregon high schools aren't making much progress in getting more students ready for college, according to new ACT test scores.

Springfield educators are not happy with the results.

English composition, math, reading, science - it doesn't matter.

"We're looking at that gap," said Matt Coleman, assistant superintendent, "and saying we've got to close that gap."

New ACT numbers show half of Oregon students aren't ready for college math, and 45 pecent couldn't read well enough to earn a C or better in college.

"If you look at it compared to the national average they're not going to look as good," Coleman said of his district's numbers.

Springfield scores well below state averages for English, math, social science and other categories.  

One difference, however, is the sample size. Springfield pays $50,000 per year to have all its high school juniors take the ACT. In other districts, students pay their own way - or don't take the test at all.

"It doesn't matter," Coleman said. "Our system needs to be providing for them, and we need to be achieving at the level with their state peers."

Stiffer graduation requirements and more advanced placement college-prep courses were supposed to be the keys to get more Oregon high school students ready for college.

But the ACT scores may indicate more efforts are needed.

"What we're seeing with the ACT scores is concerning because it speaks to high school preparation for college," said Dr. Roger Thompson, Vice Provost for Enrollment at the University of Oregon.  

At the same time, Thompson said the last two incoming freshman UO classes have come in with an average GPA of just under 3.6, an all-time high.

Coleman said better scores have to begin in the lower grades. Springfield educators hope a new mentoring program at the 9th-grade level will get students on a better track.

"We know we have a lot of work to do," he said, "and we're going to get it done."