More local students ready for college

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By Calen McKinney


Test scores at local school systems are up, showing that more students are on track to be ready for college courses when they graduate high school.

The Kentucky Department of Education released EXPLORE and PLAN test scores last week, which show Campbellsville and Taylor County middle and high school students are improving in English, math, reading and science.

The EXPLORE test is given to all eighth-grade public school students. High school sophomores take the PLAN test.

The tests are precursors to the ACT college entrance test that is given to all high school juniors at public schools.

Schools use EXPLORE results as an early indicator of whether students are on the college track and as a guide as to how they should build high school academic plans, according to the KDE.

PLAN test results show how students are progressing in high school while they still have time to make changes in their high school academic plans.

At the state level, students scored higher on the EXPLORE and PLAN tests last September than they did the year before.

The scores also show that more students are testing as “college ready” than after the previous year’s test. Last September, nearly 50,000 eighth-grade students took the EXPLORE test, results of which are on a 1 to 25 scale.

Nearly 50,000 students took the PLAN test, which is scored from 1 to 32.

Campbellsville Schools Superintendent Mike Deaton says his schools have used its EXPLORE and PLAN test data to implement several strategies to boost grades.

“The overall reaction to our results is that we see continuous improvement occurring in each building,” he said.

“The results are extremely important as they give us feedback on how effective our teaching is, what areas need improvement and how prepared our students are at each of those grade levels for the ACT, which they are required to take in their junior year.”

Susan Kilby, supervisor of instruction at Taylor County Schools, says the district doesn’t compare EXPLORE and PLAN data from one year to the next, since the scores come from different groups of students.

“What we look at is the improvement/decline in scores of the same group. The class of 2015 increased from an EXPLORE composite score of 15.1 to a 17.5 on the PLAN,” she said. “We are extremely pleased with this growth since that tells us what we are doing is working.”

Kilby said the district uses EXPLORE results as a benchmark for students and work with each to determine their needs.

“We want every student to be the best they can be,” she said.

PLAN results, Kilby said, tell a school how successful it is in getting students on the path to college.

“As we move closer to graduation, the ACT is an indicator of the success we are making with students. Our goal is for all students to be college and career ready.”

The Taylor County School District has a college and career coach working with students, Kilby said.

For complete test results, visit openhouse.education.ky.gov and click on the College/Career Readiness section under Assessment.

Results for local school systems follow and are printed in a sidebar to this story.

Campbellsville Middle Scores at Campbellsville Middle School are up in English, reading, science and in the school’s composite score.

Students scored an average of 15.2 in English last year, as opposed to 13.6 the year before. They scored an average of 14.5 in reading, up from 14.4 in 2011. Science scores increased from 16.8 to 17.1.

The district’s overall composite EXPLORE score improved from 15.2 in 2011 to 15.7 after last year’s test. And more CMS students met the college readiness benchmarks than in 2011.

Scores in math dipped from 15.6 to 15.4.

CMS Principal David Petett said the increase in his school’s composite score has placed his students near the top in the region and above the state and national averages.

“We have seen an increase of over two points on our composite score over the past four years and we are certainly proud to see the efforts of our students and staff paying off,” he said.

Petett said improving EXPLORE scores is a priority for his school, since they provide valuable information about career and college readiness.

“We were above the national average in every single subject area and the percentage of students achieving a score at or above the national benchmarks improved in all areas.”

Petett said those at CMS are celebrating their scores, the highest in the school’s history, and he congratulates his students.

“Now that we have had some time to break down the data, we are back at it trying to improve our areas of weakness and climb further up the ladder with our results,” he said. “These scores placed us in the top third of Kentucky’s middle schools but our ultimate goal has been and still is to reach the top 10 percent of Kentucky’s middle schools in academic and extracurricular achievement.”

Taylor County Middle
Scores at Taylor County Middle School stayed the same in English at 15.2. Scores decreased in math from 15.9 to 15.3, in reading from 14.8 to 14.4 and in overall composite from 15.8 to 15.5.

The school’s science average increased from 16.5 to 16.6. And more TCMS students met the college readiness benchmarks than in 2011.

TCMS Principal Tony Jewell said his school isn’t comparing scores from last year to the year before because they are from different groups of students.

“Each class has their own personality, strengths and ability levels,” he said. “Also, last years’ scores for math were based on new common core state standards.”

Jewell said this year’s scores place TCMS at the national average in English and science and only missing the national average slightly in reading and math. The school’s composite score matches the national average of 15.5.

He said school officials constantly monitor testing date and work to improve where the data shows it is needed.

“While Explore results are important, they are just one piece of a very large puzzle. All scores are disaggregated for individuals, subgroups and as a whole.  Based on our findings, we write a school improvement plan and set goals to improve scores for all students and narrow the performance gaps among subgroups.”

Campbellsville High
At Campbellsville High School, PLAN scores are up in all areas but one.

In English, scores rose from 14.9 to 16.1. Students increased from 15.7 in math to score 16.6 last year. Reading scores increased from 15.4 to 16.2 and the district composite score rose from 16.0 to 16.8. Science scores dipped from 17.7 to 17.5.

And more CHS students met the PLAN benchmark scores than in 2011.

CHS Principal Kirby Smith says he is excited to see his students’ scores increase yet again.

“Since the 2006-2007 school year, CHS has experienced a steady increase in our composite score.

Our current score is the highest in school history,” he said.

Smith said PLAN scores will help administrators identify the students on track for college and those who need a bit more help.

“The PLAN test is a way to prepare for the ACT test,” Smith said. “Students receive a score report that helps them identify their strengths and areas where improvement is needed.”

Smith says teachers and students at CHS are constantly striving to be better.

“[We] will not be content until all our areas are above state average.”

Taylor County High
At Taylor County High School, last year’s scores came in very close to the ones from 2011.

In English, the scores rose from 17.0 to 17.4. In math, TCHS scored 17.1, down from a 17.3 average in 2011. Reading scores dipped from 17.1 to 17.0 and science scores fell from 18.6 to 18.4. The district’s composite score fell just slightly from 17.6 to 17.5.

More TCHS students met the PLAN benchmark scores than in 2011.

TCHS Principal Charles Higdon Jr. said he is proud of his school’s scores.

“ I am extremely proud of our students and staff as they continue to lead the area and remain one of the top schools in the region in ACT, Plan and dropout percentage [at] zero for four years.

“Our performance-based education system is creating opportunities and opening doors for our students to be well prepared for their career/college pathway choice.”


EXPLORE Scores for 2012

Campbellsville Middle School







Taylor County Middle School







Kentucky Average Scores







Nation Average Scores







PLAN Scores for 2012

Campbellsville High School







Taylor County High School







Kentucky Average Scores







Nation Average Scores





Composite      17.2