TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local News

September 4, 2012

Tri-County ACT test scores are in

Five districts down from a year ago, one up in 2011-12 testing

CORBIN — By Jeff Noble, Staff Writer

Preparing students for life after high school. It’s an ongoing job for teachers, administrators and school districts every year, with the ACT scores being the scorecard for progress and improvement.

For five school districts in the Tri-County region —  Barbourville Independent, Corbin Independent, Laurel County, Whitley County and Williamsburg Independent — the ACT composite average scores for last year’s junior class were down this year from 2011. The Laurel County totals are down because the ACT scores for two of the district’s high schools — North Laurel High and South Laurel High — were combined.

For the Knox County school district, their ACT composite average score for last year’s junior class went up this year from last year. That’s because the ACT scores for two of that district’s high schools — Knox Central High and Lynn Camp Schools — were also combined.

With the two schools combined, Knox County Schools showed a composite average score of 17.1 for 2012, up from 16.8 in 2011. Together, they showed gains in the average scores for English and science, while scores for math and reading remained the same as a year ago.

“The increase in scores from the time they are a junior to when they graduate, and from when they take the PLAN test as 10th-grade students to the ACT as juniors, is the result of a rigorous and relevant curriculum that is preparing our students for college and career,” said Knox County Superintendent Walter Hulett in a statement from his office.

Separately, Knox Central High had gains in all four average categories for a composite average score of 17.4 in 2012, up from last year’s 16.8. Meanwhile, Lynn Camp Schools showed a composite average score in 2012 of 17.3, down from 17.5 a year ago. Gains in the average science score were offset by losses in English, math and reading.

For Corbin Independent Schools, the composite average score for 2012 was 20.1, slightly down from last year’s 20.2. While the average science score posted a gain, reading and math scores were down from a year ago, and the average English score remained even from a year ago.

“We are still holding our own. Corbin is above the state average on all the totals, and we always try to strive to do better. The scores are important to the students, and especially to the parents, when their student is going to college. Those points on the scores could make a difference on a student’s chances for a scholarship. We’d like to do better, and we’re continuing to work on it,” Corbin Independent Superintendent Ed McNeel said.

The Laurel County Schools’ ACT composite average score was down from last year, with the combined scores from North Laurel and South Laurel High. Together, the composite average score for 2012 was 19.4, slightly down from 19.5 in 2011. The two schools gained on the average scores in English and math, while down on reading and science.

Separately, South Laurel High had losses in all four average categories for a composite average score of 19.4 in 2012, down from 20.2 last year. At the same time, North Laurel High’s composite average score for 2012 was 19.4, up from last year’s 19.1. North Laurel gained in English and math, was down in science and stayed even in reading.

“We are working on an improvement plan for the ACT, as well as the Explorer (for eighth graders) and the PLAN (for 10th graders) tests. We want to increase those scores in our district, and we continue to focus on increasing student learning and achievement,” said Laurel County School Superintendent Doug Bennett.

For 2012, Whitley County Schools showed a composite average score of 18.1, down from 18.5 in 2011. Average scores in English, math, reading and science were down from the same totals a year ago.

The Barbourville Independent school district also saw the composite average score go down in 2012, at 18.0, compared to a 19.1 last year. Like Whitley County, the district saw losses in science, English, reading and math average scores from a year ago.

That was also the case in the Williamsburg Independent district, whose ACT composite average score this year end up at 18.0, down from 18.6 in 2011. Average scores in reading, science, English and math were down from last year.

The ACT test assesses reading, mathematics, science and English, and is scored on a scale of 1 to 36.

Statewide, ACT scores for juniors were up. Average English scores were 18.4 in 2012, up from 18.0 last year. For reading, average scores were the same as last year at 19.0. In science, the average for 2012 was 19.1, up from 19.0 a year ago. And for English, the average score for 2012 was 18.4, up from 2011’s average of 18.0. The composite score statewide was 19.0, up from 18.8 in 2011.

Most people relate to the ACT scores, but one state official said what to keep an eye on are the college benchmarks — the percent of students who are meeting the Kentucky Council of Postsecondary Education’s, or the CPE’s, College Readiness Benchmarks on the ACT test.

“It means are they ready for college? If the schools are meeting or exceeding those benchmarks already, they’re doing great. They’re doing something right. If they’re not, they still have time to help kids get ready,” said Lisa Gross with the Kentucky Department of Education.

A listing of how the schools did on those benchmarks, as well as the ACT scores for last year’s junior class, can be found back on page 3A.

According to the KDE, some of the low percentages of students meeting those benchmarks can be attributed to the larger population of students taking the ACT, and some students’ status as juniors who haven’t yet completed all of the credits necessary to graduate.

Statewide, 52.2 percent of the state’s public school juniors in 2012 met the CPE’s benchmark for English of 18. The mathematics benchmark of 19 was met by 38.6 percent of the juniors, while the reading benchmark of 20 was met by 41.9 percent of junior students.

As for public school graduates statewide, 56.2 percent met the benchmark of 18 for English, while 41.6 percent met the mathematics benchmark of 19, and 46.5 percent met the reading benchmark of 20.

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