Clinton schools receive more good news on student achievement

Posted December 18, 2012 at 8:00 pm

For the fourth time in as many weeks, Clinton County Schools have received positive news about student achievement.

Results from the EXPLORE and PLAN tests taken in September by students in grade eight and 10 show tremendous improvement from the past year. In fact, the composite (or total) score for the PLAN test shows that Clinton County High School 10th graders are on par with the national average.

Clinton County Middle School eighth graders even exceeded the national average. Both the EXPLORE and the PLAN tests are pre-ACT tests. They are used to predict how well students will fare on the ACT given during the 11th grade year.

The good news from these test results is just the latest in a string of honors bestowed upon Clinton County Schools during the past month.

First, the Clinton County High School was designated a Proficient School by the Kentucky Department of Education based upon the state’s new accountability system.

Next, the high school received a congratulatory letter from Education Commissioner Terry Holliday recognizing CCHS as one of the top ten schools in the state for one-year growth on College and Career Readiness Rates.

Finally, the district received news from the College Board that it had been selected for the Advanced Placement (AP) District Honor Roll. Clinton County was one of only ten districts in the state to be included on the AP Honor Roll for increasing access and performance by students in Advanced Placement classes.

In Holliday’s letter to Clinton County High School Principal Sheldon Harlan, the KDE Commissioner said, “Congratulations to CCHS for being in the “top ten” schools for one-year growth in College and Career Readiness rates in Kentucky. I applaud your work and your response to the passage of Senate Bill 1 and its call for schools and districts to improve the college and career readiness for their students by 50 percent by the 2014-15 school year.”

Students who took the EXPLORE test at the middle school level scored higher than the national average in English, Reading and Science and was only a tenth of a point below that average in Math and was actually a tenth of a point higher than the national average (15.6 compared to 15.5) in the total composite score.

The more positive news is the overall improvement shown in the testing, taken this past September, compared to a year ago. In English, local students scored a 14.9, compared to 14.1 last year; in Math, the score was 15.4 compared to 14.5 a year ago; in Reading, students scored 14.8 compared to 14.3 last year and in Science, the score was up from 15.8 last year to 16.9 this year. Overall, the composite score was 15.6, up from 14.8 last year.

The results on the PLAN test, also taken in September by 10th graders at the high school, was just as impressive. Again, local students tested scored higher in three of four core categories–English, Reading and Science–compared to the national average and was just two points below in Math.

Local students scored a 16.4 in English, compared to the national average of 16.2 and was above the 15.3 scored last year; in Math, the local average was 16.8 compared to the national average of 17.6, but the local average last year was 16; in Reading, the local score was 16.9 compared to the national rate of 16.7 and was also up from 16 last year; and in Science, local students scored a 18.1, compared to the national average of 17.8 and was also up almost a full point from the 17.2 last year. Overall, the composite average of local and national scores were dead even at 17.2.

“This is wonderful news,” said Paula Little, the district’s Instructional Supervisor. She stressed how hard both faculty and students at all the district schools have been working to improve achievement. She added that she was “extremely pleased” with the positive results and added, “Everyone should be very proud of how well our students are doing.”

Little noted as well that both the EXPLORE and PLAN tests are given by the same people who give the ACT test, a pre-requisite for college entry, and is a road map to how local students are expected to score on the actual ACT exam in their junior year of high school.

Superintendent Charlotte Bernard told the Clinton County News last Friday that she was “very excited” to see the improvement and shows the district continues to be on a path of improving. She said the pre-testing also allows the Clinton County School District to track comparisons in achievement from the eighth to tenth grade levels and eventually through the high school years.

“These (tests) are a good tool for parents to look at,” Bernard said. “We can break apart from year-to-year to gauge what direction we are going in and what we need to do to continually improve.” She also added the scores help student morale and commended students, parents and school faculty for the most recent string of good academic news.

The superintendent also was proud of the news of Clinton schools being selected for the AP District Honor Roll, which was one of only 10 districts in Kentucky that met the criteria for inclusion to the list.

Criteria for access to AP included at least an 11 percent improvement increase for smaller school districts; the percentage of exams taken by African American, Hispanic/Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native students not decrease by more than 10 percent; and, performance levels must be maintained or improved when comparing the percentage of exams scoring a three plus from 2010-2012.

The AP College Board will release names of all Honor Roll awardees and send posters for each high school and district office, along with a web banner.

Bernard noted that advanced classes to prepare students for higher education was strenuous and those students who take the courses have to work harder. However, the classes, she says, “are getting students on track for college and career readiness.” “They (students) have to work harder but they become better students in the long run.”