News Release
Contacts: Robert T. Tad Perry, Executive Director
Carol Stonefield, Director of Informationt

T: 605.773.3455
F: 605.773.5320


For Immediate Release 5 October 2000


South Dakota University Students Continue to Gain More from
College than National Average

RAPID CITY- The South Dakota Board of Regents heard today that students at South Dakota's public universities continue to gain more in their first two years of college than students in a national reference group. The information was part of a report on the gains in achievement measured by the proficiency exam. Instituted by the Regents in Spring 1998, the exam is a requirement for all second-semester sophomores.

"It is one thing to say that our students are doing well and another to prove it. The Regents instituted the proficiency exam as an accountability tool. The results of the exam have consistently shown us that our students are gaining more knowledge during their first two years of instruction at South Dakota public universities than students are gaining in a national comparison group," said Regents President Harvey C. Jewett, IV.

In order to measure gains in achievement a student must possess both an ACT score and CAAP (College Assessment of Academic Performance) score. Most freshmen entering a South Dakota public university present a score on the college admissions exam produced by American College Testing (ACT). The CAAP exam is comprised of four subject areas: writing, mathematics, reading and science reasoning. The focus in scoring is on the change in score level from the time of the ACT testing to that of the proficiency exam. From the ACT score a level of expected gain is determined. In all four subject areas South Dakota public university students demonstrated a higher percentage of gains in achievement than did students in the national reference group.

The reference group against which South Dakota students' performance are compared consists of a pool of students who have taken both the ACT and the CAAP. These attend either a public or private 4-year college. When comparing performances between students with a specific ACT score within an institution and the reference group of students with the same score, ACT weighs the reference group performance to reflect the same distribution of ACT scores as the institution. This insures that the level of expected gain is similar between the two reference groups.

The 1999-00 report marks the fourth year in which the CAAP has been administered at South Dakota public universities. Over the four years students from all six universities showed gains at larger percentages than the national reference group.

"The 1999-00 report varies slightly from previous years. ACT, who provides the report, made a change in the reporting categories. Previous to this year the student progress was characterized using five categories of gain. Beginning with the 1999-00 report, ACT consolidated the five categories into three categories: lower than expected, expected, higher than expected. This change makes it impossible to create longitudinal comparisons. Nevertheless the report once again shows that in all four subject areas South Dakota public university students demonstrated a higher percentage of gains in achievement than did students in the national reference group," said Senior Administrator Dr. Lesta Turchen.


SD Public Higher Education vs. Reference Group, 1999-00

(Gains: Expected and Higher)


"As more and more providers make more post-secondary education options available it is important to provide some measure of quality assurance. Without it consumers don't know what they are buying. The proficiency exam is our quality assurance to our consumers, the students at South Dakota public universities and their families," said Regents Executive Director Robert T. Tad Perry.

For more information, contact: Dr. Robert T. Tad Perry, Executive Director or Dr. Lesta Turchen, Senior Administrator, South Dakota Board of Regents, (605) 773-3455.





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