STANFORD — Lincoln County High School has climbed 77 rungs up the state rankings ladder for ACT scores, and Principal Tim Godbey has his sights set even higher.
Lincoln High School's average composite score on the ACT in 2011 was 17.8, which placed it in a tie for 159th out of 229 public high schools. In 2012, its average composite score rose to 19.0, moving it into a tie for 82nd out of 230 schools.
"I think it gives us some confidence that the things we have going on in the building are effective," Godbey said of Lincoln's rise through the high school ranks. "We're on the right track to becoming a top-25 high school."
The average ACT¿scores are compiled based on what juniors at each public high school in Kentucky score on the ACT test, which many colleges and universities use to determine admission and eligibility for scholarships. State funding pays for every high school junior in Kentucky to take the ACT.
An Interior Journal analysis of average ACT scores from junior classes at 10 area high schools including Lincoln County shows Lincoln had the lowest composite score of all 10 schools in 2011. In 2012, Lincoln had the fourth-best composite among the same group, trailing only Southwestern at 19.5, Danville at 19.9 and Boyle County at 20.0.
Statewide, Kentucky students' average composite ACT score rose slightly from 18.8 to 19.0, meaning Lincoln is now right on par.
"The increases show that our administrators and teachers are focused on the ultimate goal of preparing students for life after high school," Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said of the state-level improvement. "While the increases in scores are small, they indicate an intensified emphasis on college (and) career readiness."
The English, math and reading portions of ACT scores are used to help determine what percentage of each high school's students are ready for college or a career when they graduate. College and career readiness (CCR) is one of several ways the state gauges high schools' performance.
While official CCR numbers have not yet been released, Godbey said he is expecting Lincoln to be at about 55 percent, up from 31 percent the previous year.
Lincoln students scored an average of 18.7 in English, which is 0.7 points above the CCR benchmark of 18.
Lincoln students got an average of 18.4 in math, which is 0.6 below the CCR benchmark of 19. In reading, Lincoln students averaged a 19.5 — half a point above the state average but half a point below the CCR mark.
Based on data from the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority, the overall improvement in Lincoln's composite ACT score translates into approximately $72 more per year in Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship money for Lincoln County students.
Last year, Lincoln County High School was classified by the state as a persistently low-achieving school. In response, school officials began implementing many changes the state had previously required at other schools given PLA status.
An audit team spent a week in the school district in the spring and three advisers are now spending a year at the high school, offering daily support.
Godbey said data like the state ACT rankings "validates the work we did last year and I think it gives us great momentum going into this year."
"I think our next step is to try to break the top 50, and with a 1-point increase, we can do that. We're pushing this group of juniors this year to reach that 20 mark," he said. "We're on the right track, we just have to stay focused."