Juniors at West Jessamine High School last year scored higher than the previous class in each of four subject areas on the ACT, with the highest average composite score in the school’s history.
School-level ACT data from the 2011-2012 school year was released Wednesday, Aug. 22. West High juniors had a composite average of 20.5 on the college-admissions test that is scored from 1 to 36. That figure was the school’s highest since the ACT became mandatory for all juniors in 2009.
“We’ve embedded ACT curriculum into all of our different areas, and I think it shows,” principal Ed Jones said. “... I think it just shows the hard work of our teachers; it shows the hard work of our students, because we constantly talk to them about the importance of the ACT and how it’s now embedded in all of our state testing.”
Jones said the school’s new goals are composite averages of 20.7 for the 2013 juniors and 21.0 for the 2014 juniors — targets that he says iPads and the new Triumph College Admissions Prep program will help with.
“We were good at 20.3; we were good at 20.1,” Jones said. “What it shows is that we’re not content to stay where we are; we want to continue to improve. Our goal is not even to be a top-10 school; our goal is to be a top-one or -two or -three school.”
As a whole, Jessamine County saw a slight uptick, with the composite average of juniors up to 19.5 after flipping between 19.3 and 19.4 the previous four years. In the four individual subject areas, Jessamine juniors saw their highest marks in the past five years in English (18.9) and reading (19.8). The math average held steady at 19.4, and science dipped from 19.7 to 19.4. The county’s composite is 0.5 above the state average of 19.0.
ACT data for the senior class was also released; the class of 2012 in Jessamine County had a composite-average increase of 0.1 up to 20.4 — the first time that number has risen since the ACT became mandatory for juniors in 2009.
Superintendent Lu Young said the district tries to compare ACT scores with those same students’ scores on predictor tests like the PLAN in their sophomore year — a process that district staff are currently working on.
“What we want to see is where that cohort group of 10th-graders was on the PLAN and then how they grew at or beyond the expected growth for students across the country in a year’s time,” Young said. “What I really want to know is how does that 20.4 compare to what we thought that students would do in the 10th grade on PLAN? They’re still kind of ferreting that out; we’re doing a more formal report for the board at the September work session.”
East Jessamine High School’s 2012 juniors saw dips in several ACT subject areas compared to the 2011 juniors, with a composite average of 19.0 compared to the previous year’s 19.4. Young said officials were also looking at that specifically, suspecting that those scores may be “on track” for the class when looking at their PLAN results. West High saw a similar situation last year that Young called an “anomaly.”
A total of 57.4 percent of juniors in the district met the English ACT benchmark of 18 set by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. Forty-four percent met the math benchmark of 19, and 47.4 percent met the reading benchmark of 20. All three benchmark percentages were increases over the numbers from ’10-’11, and Young said all three figures were in the top 20 among Kentucky’s 120 county school districts.
The Jessamine County Board of Education will hear an expanded report on the ACT scores, including new figures from The Providence School, at its Sept. 10 work session.