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Students getting their ACTs together

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By Jonna Spelbring Priester

General Manager

If the scores are any indication, students in Eminence Independent and Henry County Public Schools are getting their ACT together.

In just the second year of mandatory testing of all Kentucky juniors, the ACT scores in both districts increased. For Eminence, that increase was substantial, with a 1.6-point increase in the composite score, while Henry County enjoyed a smaller increase of 0.4 points.

The Eminence scores, EHS principal Steve Frommeyer said, are a reflection that the school is headed in the right direction. The scores, he said, could be the biggest increase in ACT scores in his tenure.

“But we’re not satisfied, we still want it to be higher and we think it can be,” he said.

HCPS Assistant Superintendent and Curriculum Coordinator Kricket McClure said that while the increase in Henry County’s scores were good news, “we’re not where we need or want to be, but we have made progress.

When compared to the rest of the state, Eminence ranked 26th of 229 schools, while Henry County ranked toward the middle of the pack at 119.

“We would like to be higher and are working hard to get there,” McClure said.

Of his school’s ranking in the top 15 percent of schools, Frommeyer said the school obviously did well. “I thought gosh, we did pretty good, but we have to do better,” he said.

The ACT is considered to be a measure of college readiness, according to the Kentucky Department of Education. Students earning at least an 18 in English, 22 in Math, 21 in reading and 24 in science, are believed to have a 50 percent chance of making a B or better in certain college courses, or 75 percent chance of making at least a C.

According to the state results, less than half of Kentucky’s students are ready for college level English composition courses, and just under one-third are ready for college level social science courses. One-fifth are ready for college level algebra courses and just 16 percent are ready for college level biology courses.

The scores, McClure said, show some students that they might be college material after all. “The neatest thing about having everyone take this test (is it) may convince some kids who thought they couldn’t do it that they can,” she said.

Overall, she said, HCHS juniors improved by more than the state average, helping the school narrow the gap with the state average.

Each district’s improvement came on the back of strong gains in English scores — Eminence jumped 2.6 points to a 20.7, and HCHS jumped 0.7 points to 16.9. That, McClure said, reflected a focus at HCHS on English and math during the 2008/2009 school year.

Eminence’s scores placed it above the state average in all categories, while HCHS was below the state average, but by no more than 0.7 points in any category.

Both schools implement a variety of methods to help students prepare for the ACT.

At HCHS, teachers incorporate ACT practice problems in math, as well as ACT vocabulary lists in English. The school does not conduct an ACT specific preparation class.

McClure said teachers at HCHS have a plan in place for incorporating the college readiness standards, and “really focus some attention on the things that will help kids improve their scores.”

At Eminence, students get ACT preparation during senior seminar. “I think we still need to do a better job with ACT prep in general,” Frommeyer said. As such, the school is implementing seminar periods for every grade level — not just the senior class — spreading out the work load of preparing students for the ACT.

 

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