DCHS’s poor math, science scores should raise red flags

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Dear Editor,

The dismal academic standing of Dawson County High School has, once more, failed to warrant an entry into the Glendive School Board monthly agenda. Perhaps the poor ranking by U.S. News and World Report (USN&WR) has been discounted because USN&WR provides little information to support their analysis. So, please consider some of the data, upon which USN&WR might have made their assessment.

The State of Montana evaluates state high school performance with a “report card” that appraises Mathematics, Reading and Science skills. The “report card” identifies the percentage of students within four levels (Novice, Nearing Proficient, Proficient, and Advanced) in each of the three skill areas. In the 2018-2019 school year, the Reading skills of DCHS students were good; almost 60% were “Proficient” or better, compared to 50% statewide. However, Math and Science skills were disappointing: 78% of the students were less than “Proficient” in Math. 42% ranked as “Novice” in Math. 62% of the students were less than “Proficient” in Science skills. In practical terms, this means that three-fourths of DCHS students would probably require remedial math work in order to pursue a career in accounting; Almost half of DCHS graduates barely possess math skills beyond the ability to balance their checkbook. 2019-2020 (the Covid year) results are not available, but 2017-2019 results were comparable to 2018-2019 results . . . this is an on-going, non-Covid phenomenon.

These deficiencies in Math and Science may be reasons for USN&WR to have ranked DCHS as one of the 23 worst high schools in Montana. Regardless of USN&WR’s opinion, these scores should have raised and should continue to raise red flags to the Glendive School Board and the entire community. Dawson County students deserve to have this problem addressed immediately and decisively, with organized and authoritative actions.


Jon Fitch