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Results from last year's round of ACTs for high school seniors were released last week, showing Campbellsville High students' scores remained steady, while Taylor County seniors' improved slightly.
Campbellsville's 39 seniors scored a composite of 19, the same as the previous two years. Taylor County's 147 seniors scored a composite of 19.8, a notch above the previous 19.7. The test is optional for seniors (see sidebar).
The statewide 2008 composite is 20.9, compared to 2007's composite of 20.7. Nationally, the 2008 composite score was 21.1, a drop of 0.1 percent from 2007.
In 2008, 31,728, or 72 percent, of Kentucky's public and nonpublic high school graduates took the test, compared to last year, when 30,929 Kentucky graduates did.
The data includes only information on seniors. Results for juniors, who are now required to take the ACT as part of the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System, will be available later in the fall.
In a press release, Elisha Rhodes, Campbellsville High School guidance counselor, stated that the school is already working on the gap between the score of its seniors and the state average.
"At CHS, we work to offer our students nothing but the best education possible. Whether the gap be .5 or 3.0 between our scores and state average, that is a disappointment to us and a red light that says there is an area of growth."
Taylor County High officials are pleased with their seniors' performance.
"We feel good about the results," said assistant principal DiAnne Harris. "Of course, we would like to see our scores higher, but we think we will see positive results from the things we are doing this year."
ACT sets benchmark scores in English, mathematics, science and reading, with research indicating that students who reach certain levels have a high probability of earning a C grade or higher in certain credit-bearing first-year college courses. The benchmark scores are:
u 18 or higher on the English test.
u 22 or higher on the math test.
u 21 or higher on the reading test.
u 24 or higher on the science test.
At Taylor County High School, seniors scored a 19.2 composite in English, a 19.1 in math, a 20.2 in reading and a 20.1 in science.
The ACT results indicate that 60 percent of Taylor County seniors who took the test have a good chance of earning a C or higher in college English, a 46 percent chance in reading, 29 percent in math and 18 percent in biology.
At Campbellsville, seniors scored an 18.6 composite in English, an 18.7 in math, a 19.3 in reading and an 18.7 science.
ACT results indicate the 59 percent of Campbellsville seniors who took the test have a good chance of earning a C or higher in college English, a 23 percent chance in math, a 41 percent chance in reading and a 13 percent chance in science.
Statewide, 68 percent of seniors met or surpassed the English benchmark, 35 percent met or surpassed the math benchmark, 53 percent met or surpassed the reading benchmark and 25 percent met or surpassed the science benchmark.
Both school systems say a number of things are in place this year to help improve student achievement.
Campbellsville has adjusted its schedule to allow for a period each day to be dedicated to remediation for students who need help and enrichment for those doing well.
"The adjustment in our master schedule also provides opportunity for all students who qualify to enroll in classes at Campbellsville University," stated CHS Principal Mike Deaton.
The school continues to offer advanced placement and dual credit courses. Also, this year, an ACT support program will help juniors prepare for the test, while sophomores have the pre-ACT test PLAN and freshman and juniors take ACT practice tests.
CHS school officials also plan to visit successful schools of a similar size and demographic makeup to see what is working for them.
The school is also offering evening programs to help parents and students understand what the ACT is, why it's important, what the school is doing to help raise scores and what students and parents can do to help.
Over at Taylor County, Harris said several things are being implemented to help with ACT scores.
The school's goal is to offer two ACT practice tests a year, she said, while ACT preparatory workshops will be available prior to the tests in October and March.
The ThinkLink program will have an emphasis on ACT for juniors while the school's overall curriculum and instruction plans were aligned with the ACT in mind. ThinkLink is an online assessment that gives teachers almost instant data on what students have learned and where they struggle.
Harris said the school is also looking into implementing the Kaplan plan, which offers programs dealing with test-taking and after-school activities.