In Aug. 26 Issue
Russell County High School juniors' ACT test results for the spring of 2010 were released this past week by the Kentucky Department of Education and show a significant improvement from previous years, according to Darren Gossage, the principal at RCHS.
The school's overall composite score improved from 17.5 to 18.6, higher than any previous year since state law mandated that all juniors take the ACT.
"I am really impressed with the improvement of our scores," Gossage said. "I want to praise the teachers and students for all their hard work and say that I am very proud of them." The school's composite score is above the state's average score of 18.5 and is one of the highest ACT scores in the region, Gossage said. The school's increase is one of the largest gains in the area.
In addition to the higher composite score, the local high school juniors' ACT scores show improvement over many years' scores in all the individual content areas of English, Mathematics, Reading and Science.
The school's students scored above the state average in three of the four subject areas: English, Mathematics and Reading, Gossage said.
The students, 189 in all, scored 17.9 on the English portion of the ACT, 18.6 in math, 19 in reading and 18.4 in science. The highest score in any area prior to this year was 18.9 in reading two years ago.
State averages for this year are 17.8 for reading, 18.3 for math, 18.9 for reading and 18.7 for science.
The new Common Core State Standards recently adopted by the state have a strong correlation to college readiness standards and will help prepare students for ACT testing and taking college level courses, Gossage said.
The high school teachers have made several changes to improve student achievement and performance.
English Department Chair Sarah Stapp credits some of the improvement with the implementation of an ACT-like assessment given three times a year during a student's freshman year.
"The freshmen teachers analyze each of the three tests," Stapp said. "Then we use the data to help students create individual goals, and the teachers use the data to inform classroom instruction throughout the year."
Other teachers are reporting classroom changes as well.
Stacy Anderson, the Social Studies Department Chair at the high school, said she believes the school-wide focus on literacy has been a big boost to student achievement.
"Teachers are adding more timed content area reading and independent reading to classroom instruction," Anderson said. "Overall we have just had a more intentional focus on literacy in general."
Math Department Chair Pam Wilson also said that teachers have been more purposeful to focus on specific ACT-like skills, used diagnostic tests and results to drive instruction and the school has provided enrichment math and reading classes to students struggling in those areas.
RCHS Curriculum Specialist Beckie Wade said she credited the rise in test scores to the efforts of everyone working together. All the classroom changes that were made were created by teachers at the school level.
"Our school did not purchase any of the commercial programs that are currently being marketed; instead our teachers worked together to create their own resources to use in classrooms," Wade said. "Our teachers do an excellent job of keeping the focus on instruction and student learning and finding ways to give our students the very best education possible."
ACT Comparisons 2009 2010
State Average 18.2 18.5
Marion County 18.7 19
Somerset Ind. 20 19
Pulaski County 18 18.9
Southwestern 18.3 18.7
Russell County 17.5 18.6
Taylor County 18.7 18.5
Adair County 17.6 18.4
Campbellsville Ind. 17.5 18.1
Metcalfe County 16.9 18.1
Casey County 17.2 17.8
Rockcastle County 18.2 17.8
Wayne County 17.2 17.8
Green County 17.6 17.5
McCreary County 16.2 16.9
Clinton County 17.7 16.8
Monticello Ind. 15.7 16.8
Cumberland County 18.4 16.4