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Juniors in both the Eminence Independent and Henry County Public Schools systems performed well enough on the ACT last year to increase the average scores in all subject areas.
Eminence’s average composite of 20.9 placed it seventh among the state’s districts.
Additionally, more juniors in both districts met the designated benchmarks for the test’s subject areas — English, math, reading and science — compared to the previous years.
“We were very pleased with the improvement that we saw in those, although we’re not satisfied,” HCPS Superintendent Tim Abrams said. “We want to continue to improve.
Eminence Superintendent Buddy Berry also was pleased with the results.
“I think it was a very committed, focused effort from both students and staff,” he said. “I think in a time and a climate where everything is clamoring for our attention, I think we really focused on the big stuff.”
At EHS, juniors averaged 21.2 on English (up 1.3 from last year), 19.8 on math (up 1.8), 20.7 on reading (up 1.1), and 21.6 on science (up 3.0), for a composite of 20.9 (up from 19.1 last year.
At HCHS, juniors averaged 18.1 on reading (up 1 from last year), 17.7 on math (up 0.2), 19.4 on reading (up 1.6), and 18.9 on science (up 0.6), for a composite of 18.7 (up from 17.8 last year).
Statewide, the average scores were 18.0 in English, 18.5 in math, 19.0 in reading, and 19.0 in science, and an average composite of 18.8.
The benchmark scores, according to the Kentucky Department of Education, are scores that indicate which students have a 50 percent change of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75 percent change of a C or higher in the corresponding college-credit courses.
Among Eminence juniors, 80 percent met the English benchmark, 33.3 percent met the math benchmark, 50 percent met the reading bench mark, and 26.7 percent met the science benchmark.
Among Henry County juniors, 50.7 percent met the English bench mark, 17.1 met the math benchmark, 36.2 met the reading benchmark and 15.1 percent met the science benchmark.
Statewide, 49.5 percent met the English benchmark, 23.8 met the math benchmark, 35.3 percent met the reading benchmark and 15.8 percent met the science bench mark.
At Henry County High School, Abrams said credit for the improvements goes to the teachers and staff. “They worked very hard... to make parents and students aware of how important that ACT score is for them,” he said. Parent workshops explaining the benchmark scores were held last year, and Abrams said those are on tap again this year.
HCHS also has a goal of a 20.0 composite next year, a 1.3-point increase over this year. “Which is a lofty goal... but I think setting big goals will make them strive to (achieve) that,” Abrams said.
Abrams acknowledged that the school still “has a lot of work to do in math
“We don’t have as many students hitting benchmark in math as we would like to have, and that’s something that we’re going to continue to put attention to,” he said. “We saw a big increase in reading, but didn’t see as much in math. You can’t let up in other areas.”
Increasing the math scores, Abrams said, is something that actually starts in elementary schools.
“One of the things that we’re talking about today is creating a college-going culture,” Abrams said.
Part of creating that culture includes taking the district’s fifth grade students on field trips to college campuses.
“Many students, maybe their parents weren’t able to go to college, don’t understand what a campus is like,” he said. “We want to give them that experience.”
Abrams said that while every parent dreams of their child going on to college or a career, they may need help understanding exactly what it means to go to college.
In addition to the college visits in elementary school, Abrams said the district hopes to make parents aware of just what it takes to get into college.
But Abrams acknowledges something else. “I’m keenly aware that not every student is going to college,” he said. “So we’re trying to expand. I’m working with the career-technology education folks at the state so that we can expand our offerings here for students that may want to become a CNA, do something with computers.... it’s our hope that those students, in the coming yeras, will have more opportunities.”
Berry said at Eminence, the increase in scores is a student and teacher accomplishment. “In a climate where you’re expected to do everything, we chose to do a few things very, very well,” he said. “We’ve really been focused on this standards based mastery.”
In particular, Berry was pleased to see that 80 percent of the juniors reached the English benchmark. “That was a tribute to the middle and high schools,” he said. “They won a literacy grant five years ago.... classroom literacy is one we’ve focused on since before I got here.”
Berry’s only disappointment? “To be honest, we want to be number one,” he said. “So I was disappointed that six districts beat us. That’s the bar we’re setting. We want to be the premier district in the state.”
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