High school ACT scores show progress

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By Bryan Marshall

Williamstown High School stayed above the state average while Grant County High School fell just below in recently released ACT scores.
The data is from high school juniors who took the test during the 2013-14 school year. Those students are seniors this year.
Since 2008, state law has mandated all of Kentucky’s public school juniors participate in the ACT, which assesses English, reading, mathematics and science and is scored on a scale of 1 to 36.
GCHS, who had 268 students take the test, received a composite score of 18.4, one point lower than the state average of 19.4.
In the subject areas, the average scores were 17.4 in English, 18.9 in math, 18.2 in reading and 18.5 in science.
Compared to the students who took the test last year, GCHS saw an increase in English and math scores while reading stayed the same and science dipped.
Grant County Schools Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Wright said she is pleased with the steady progress the high school is making on the ACT.
“Although our composite score only went up a tenth of a point, any climb on the ACT assessment is considered a success,” she said. “The ACT data is just one set of academic data we look at in order to get a complete view of the whole child. We use it to make our instruction better in the classroom and determine strengths and weaknesses that need to be addressed.”
Wright said that the district’s administrative team meets with teachers on a weekly basis to discuss classroom instruction and assessment.  
The high school is doing a better job of personalizing the data for each student and planning for the individual needs of every child, said Wright.
“One area we will look closely at is the growth our students made from the PLAN assessment they took in their 10th grade year to the ACT test they took as a junior,” she said. “This will tell us if academically our students are making gains from year to year. Ultimately, our goal is to see individual growth from all 268 students.”
Williamstown High School, who had 56 students take the test, received a composite score of 20.8 for the third year in a row.
In each subject, WHS scored above the state average with 19.9 in English, 20.8 in math and reading and 21.3 in science.
“Furthermore, our percentage of students meeting benchmarks increased in every content area with the exception of reading, but that benchmark increased from a 21 to a 22 from last year to this year,” said Williamstown Independent Schools Assistant Superintendent Misty Middleton. “In fact, more than half of our students met benchmarks in all four areas. Our students and teachers work hard throughout the year and the scores validate that the hard work is paying off.”
With a different group of juniors taking the test each year, Middleton said the scores are not compared to previous years.
Instead, the district looks at the students as a group and individually to see if they are improving over time by analyzing results from the EXPLORE test in eighth grade and the PLAN test in 10th grade.  
“By doing this, we have a better gauge to see if what we are implementing in our classrooms daily is helping,” Middleton said. “Additionally, we do not look at these scores as a final endpoint. Students and teachers view the results and work to improve in the areas that were lacking. Therefore, when students take the ACT again, they have a good probability of increasing their score, which many do.”