The latest results from the 2012 ACT test administered to all Kentucky public school juniors show a slight increase in the composite scores in all subject areas.
The ACT test, scored on a scale of 1 to 36 in the areas of English, math, reading and science, is commonly used in the college admissions process. The state began mandatory testing all public school juniors five years ago.
This year, statewide scores for the 44,516 students tested improved from 18 to 18.4 in English, from 18.5 to 18.8 in math, from 19 to 19.1 in science and remained the same at 19 in reading.
Locally, scores for the 394 George Rogers Clark High School juniors tested dipped slightly from the previous year, registering a composite score of 18.4, down from last year’s 18.9.
GRC scores were lower across the board, from 18.4 to 18.3 in English, 18.7 to 18.2 in math, froom 19.1 to 18.4 in reading and from 19.1 to 18.4 in science.
While the scores were lower than the previous year, the number of GRC students meeting the benchmarks for college readiness on the test improved in two of the four tested areas.
Fifty-one percent of the students met the benchmarks in English compared to 47 percent last year, with 37 percent meeting the benchmark in reading, compared to 36 percent last year.
The number of students meeting the benchmark in math dropped from 24 percent last year to 21 percent this year and 15 percent meeting the benchmark in science compared to 18 last year.
GRC Principal David Bolin said that while the drop wasn’t what they wanted to see, there was no need to panic.
“We were not satisfied with our scores, but you are never satisfied with them,” Bolin said. “It’s obviously not what we wanted to see, but realistically, we kind of knew it was going to dip a little bit. But you’ve got to look at the whole picture. Historically, these scores go up when they take the ACT again as seniors and I’m confident that these will also.”
Scores for last year’s junior class bear that out. Their composite score on the ACT as juniors was an 18.9. As seniors in 2012 they improved their score to a 19.7.
Chief Academic Officer Mark Thomas said many factors play into the increase in scores from a student’s junior to senior year.
“You have to keep everything in perspective. The junior scores are from a one-time test taken by all juniors on the same day, while the senior class scores are the best ACT scores from tests that they can take multiple times,” Thomas said. “Also, typically you see an increase from the junior score to the senior score because as a junior, a student hasn’t had as much of the curriculum as the senior has. So you have to look at it over time and look to see if we are seeing improvements and if they continue to grow.”
Bolin said the GRC faculty put an added emphasis on math and English the past three years to increase scores in those areas and the gains on this year’s tests show it is working. Additional steps are being implemented to boost math scores even more, he said.
“It’s encouraging to see the increase in English. Math is better but still not where it should be. This year we have started an Algebra 1.5 for students who have not mastered Algebra I. Instead of pushing them on into Algebra II, if they have below a C, they will take Algebra 1.5 as a full credit course before moving on to Algebra II,”¿Bolin said. “We’ve set our goal for this year at 20 composite score. It’s reachable, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work.”
Superintendent Elaine Farris said that she’s confident the GRC staff is on the right track in addressing the test scores.
“We have some very dedicated and committed administrators, teachers and students at GRC. GRC has implemented several research based initiatives and strategies that have and will continue to have a positive impact on student performance,” Farris said. “The composite score of the 2011 tested juniors was 18. 9 and the ACT tested 2012 graduates composite score was 19.7. It is good to see that we are seeing growth over time. We will continue to review what we are doing and make the necessary adjustments in order to obtain our goal of a composite score on the ACT.”
Contact Bob Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.