Kentucky Not Meeting ACT Benchmarks, Indiana is Above Average

by Devin Katayama on August 17, 2011

Kentucky’s 2010 ACT results were released on Wednesday. While student performance in the state rose overall, only 14 percent of public school students tested meet all four ACT benchmarks.

Starting this school year, ACT test results will be used in the state’s performance accountability. Kentucky’s 2010 test results report the state is behind the national average for graduating seniors. But the report might not be entirely accurate.

Some of the overall low results can be attributed to combining the scores of juniors and seniors, said Lisa Gross with the Kentucky Department of Education. In Kentucky all juniors are required to take the ACT and most take it again as seniors, she said. But even if they don’t, their results could be included in the average for the graduating class. The ACT will include the last test taken, said Gross

“You’re talking about a pool that’s vary varied. You have graduating seniors in that pool but you also have kids who were juniors the last time they took the test and they haven’t taken it again,” she said.

But juniors haven’t yet taken all the classes that would make them college ready, Gross said. She said she’s concerned that using the ACT for accountability will make people focus too much attention on test scores.

Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education Dr. Sue Cain looked at the data released on Wednesday. Cain found that 92 percent of last year’s high school graduates indicated they had postsecondary degree aspirations. The problem is, many students planning on a post-secondary education who don’t reach the ACT’s benchmarks will have to make up this education at some time, she said.

“That extends the time in general for a student to earn their degree and it’s also costly at the post-secondary level,” Cain said.

Kentucky offers transitional courses to high school students, which could help, she said.

But Kentucky should be proud that scores in English and reading increased slightly while the national average remained stagnant, said Cain.

Next year, Kentucky will use ACT test results as part of its college readiness assessments.

While Indiana only tested 29 percent of its students, it scored above the national average in all subjects.

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