October 2, 2023

2023/24 Standardized Testing at Animas High School

Dear Osprey Students and Families,

At Animas High School, we assess learning in lots of ways, using innovative strategies like Exhibitions, Student-Led Conferences and Presentations of Learning in addition to more traditional methods such as papers, quizzes and exams. 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. Our administration, staff and School Excellence Committee analyze test scores annually, looking for trends and refining our practices to support student success. 

We are proud that for every year in our entire history as a school, the Colorado Department of Education has named AHS a Performance School, their highest performance rating, based on achievement and growth on state assessments along with postsecondary measures such as graduation rates, drop-out rates, college entrance exams and college matriculation rates. 

2023/24 Standardized Tests per Grade Level

Our 11th graders will take the PSAT/NMSQT next week. PSAT/NMSQT scores are used to determine qualification for the National Merit Scholarship. Juniors will last name Allmon through Lanus will take the test on Tuesday, October 10 and students with the the last name Larson through Workman will take the test on Wednesday, October 11. The exception is students who have testing accomodations connected to their learning plans; all students with accomodations will test on Wednesday.

Juniors should be at school no later than 8:30, our regular start time, on their testing day. They will be released early when finished with the test, and excused from afternoon classes. Most students will finish around noon; those with extended time will finish later.

In additon to next week's PSAT/NMSQT, juniors will take the SAT and the CMAS Science test in April (dates TBA).

Sophomores will take the PSAT10 and 9th graders will take the PSAT8/9 in April (date TBA).

We will also administer the ACCESS language proficiency assessment to our English Language Learners.

We do not plan to administer any standardized tests for our seniors.

All testing will be administered during regular school hours on campus, and will be online rather than with pencil and paper. There is no cost to families for any of these tests.

Some students are approved for and provided accommodations on College Board tests. Students may not use any accommodations on these tests without College Board’s formal approval. This application process is completed for students with documented disabilities by Heather Prekup, SSD Accommodations Coordinator. Students that have accommodations, particularly extended time, will have longer test sessions than those without accommodations, ranging from 4 to 6 hours to take the entire test.  

Test Scores and College Admissions

The SAT and ACT can play an important role in the college admissions process for our students, and we take seriously our role preparing them for these tests. Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the submission of standardized test scores as an admission requirement became optional at most colleges around the country. In the subsequent years since, most colleges have remained test optional. It is important to acknowledge that there are many optional aspects to the college admissions process: things such as essays, recommendations, choosing additional course rigor in high school, or to participate in extracurricular activities are all optional. However, we must keep in mind that optional does not mean that choosing to omit them is without consequence

There are several scenarios where test scores may matter and can make a difference:

  • Highly Selective college admission - Some colleges, namely highly selective ones, have remained test optional only provisionally for the next several years’ admissions cycles. This means that they are gathering data on how test optional admissions are impacting their institution long term. Some colleges may change their position on requiring test scores for admissions in the coming years, therefore it is still important to endeavor to prepare at a high level for the SAT, especially if your student is interested in pursuing selective admissions. Additionally, most selective colleges are admitting between 45-55% of their classes without test scores, which means that the remaining 45-55% of the class is being admitted using test scores as a consideration. In other words, some colleges may be placing a ‘cap’ on the number of students who they admit without test scores. 

  • Holistic college admission - For students applying to colleges (usually more selective) that use holistic review, SAT scores can be useful to help provide an additional, positive data point and help to tell a more complete story about a student in addition to their grades, course rigor, extracurricular activities, and essays. Colleges can look at your test scores relative to your classmates at AHS, and even if those scores are below the average for admitted students at that college, if they are above, or well above average scores at AHS, it creates context for you as a student who stands out among your peers at your high school. 

  • ‘On the Cusp’ - submitting test scores can be helpful to a student applying to a college that may not be selective, but for which they are ‘on the cusp’ of being admissible. For example, if the college is generally looking for a 3.0 GPA and the student’s GPA is 2.9, submitting SAT scores that are above or within the average score range for admitted students at that college could be helpful for that student to gain admission. 

  • Placement in college level coursework - Standardized test scores are often used by colleges to determine placement in first-year coursework. Students also usually have the option to take a placement test such as the Accuplacer. However, they can also use SAT or ACT scores, eliminating the need for additional testing. 

Preparing for the Tests

We believe that being engaged in their learning is a key contributing factor to student success on standardized tests. Our teachers are intentional in the way they teach content and skills that the PSAT, SAT and ACT measure. 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.  

We have students practice for the SAT by taking grade-appropriate PSAT tests in 9th, 10th and 11th grades, following up after they’ve taken the tests to help them see where they were most successful and where they can focus to do better the next time around. This helps them build skills to do their best when they take the SAT in the spring of junior year. 

Kahn Academy has partnered with College Board to offer online test prep that is free and personalized; you can access that here. Being familiar with the format of the test and doing practice tests ahead of time can also help students improve their scores. Arriving on the day of testing well rested and fed helps too, of course. 

Accessing and Understanding Individual Test Scores

Erin Cummins-Roper and Elliot Baglini reviewed Spring PSAT10 scores with juniors last week during Advisory. Juniors have linked their College Board accounts to Khan Academy so that they can take advantage of customized practice ahead of the PSAT/NMSTQ. 

After the test, 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 an exam. Students will always receive scores before the school does for all college entrance exams.

To learn more about how to interpret scores:

  • Visit the College Board website for PSAT and SAT
  • Attend postsecondary planning nights with our Dean of College & Career Counseling Erin Cummins-Roper

Opting Out

We recognize that some families have strong feelings about standardized testing and choose to opt students out of them. It’s important to understand the impact of opting out of standardized tests. 

Many colleges rely on the SAT and/or ACT scores in determining college admission, though some do not. 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.

When we are evaluated, as a school, by our authorizer--the Colorado Charter School Institute (CSI)--and the by the Colorado Department of Education, student test scores are a key data point. Having all students participate in standardized testing gives us the most accurate picture of our data.

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, you must submit a letter signed by a parent/guardian expressing your decision to the Main Office or via email to libby.cowles@animashighschool.com. Parent refusal notices will be gathered and maintained by Dave Farkas, Dean of Students and AHS Testing Coordinator.

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.

Upcoming Events

January 2024 Enrollment Opens: Tues. 10/3

Ecology Field Trip: Thurs. 10/12

Fall Break (no classes): Fri. 10/6 through Mon. 10/9

PSAT/NMSQT (11th grade): Tues. 10/10 and Wed. 10/11

Student Council Election: Wed. 10/11

Biology Field Trip to Silverton with Mountain Studies Institute (9th grade): Thurs. 10/12

Geology Field Trip: Thurs. 10/12

Junior Postsecondary Night: Thurs. 10/12, 5:30pm

TWIGS Coffee: Fri. 10/13, 8:30am

Professional Development Day (no classes): Mon. 10/16

Advancement Committee Meeting: Tues. 10/17, 1pm

TWIGS Buds Meeting: Tues. 10/17, 6pm

AHS Campus Tour: Thurs. 10/19, 8:45am RSVP here

Student-Led Conferences (9th-11th grades): Thurs. 10/19, 4-6pm

AHS Board Meeting: Thurs. 10/19, 5:30pm

AHS 2023/24 School Calendar
22/23 Daily Schedule
AHS Events Calendar
Animas High School prepares all students for college and postsecondary success by creating critical thinkers and engaged citizens through an innovative, student-centered, project-based curriculum. We accomplish this through:
Rigorous academics, where all students are prepared for college success
Culture of excellence, where students are held to high expectations
Strong student-faculty relationships, where students are well known.
Engaging learning, where students see the relevance in their education

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