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Kentucky Not Meeting ACT Benchmarks, Indiana is Above Average

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.

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Kentucky Graduation Rates May Drop With New Standards

Kentucky has released graduation rates for the 2009-2010 school year. The rates are based off a new formula under No Child Left Behind and appear to have dipped, though that’s not an entirely accurate assessment.

“You shouldn’t go back and compare the rates that we’ve reported in the past with these new rates. The reason for that is the formulas are so different that there’s no good way to make a comparison,” said Lisa Gross, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Education.

The new calculation is called the Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR). Eventually every state will conform to the Cohort AFGR. It will make the method for reporting graduation rates uniform nationwide, said the U.S. Department of Education. But because of the stricter standards, graduation numbers may seem to drop, said Gross.

“People should not immediately assume that high schools are not doing as good of a job as they have been doing just because those numbers look a little lower,” she said.

Under Kentucky’s AFGR transitional formula the Jefferson County School District’s graduation rate is 75 percent. Under Cohort AFGR, that number would be around 69 percent.

Idaho, Kentucky and Puerto Rico are three territories that have requested more time to adhere to the new federal formula, wrote Elizabeth Utrup, assistant press secretary with the U.S. Department of Education, in an email.

Kentucky has three years to phase in the nation-wide Cohort AFGR. It will be more accurate in collecting data that can be broken down by sex and ethnicity, said the U.S. Department of Education.