The Richmond Register

March 2, 2014

Student scores hold steady with some notable increases

EXPLORE, PLAN assessments determine college, career-readiness

By Crystal Wylie
Register News Writer

RICHMOND — Results are in for the EXPLORE and PLAN tests, administered to Madison County eighth- and tenth-grade students, respectively, in September.

EXPLORE and PLAN are two legs of an ACT series of tests used to assess students for college and career readiness, components of the state’s accountability system called Unbridled Learning.

Students who meet or exceed benchmarks on these tests are considered college- and career-ready.

Out of a possible score of 25, the benchmarks for EXPLORE are: English, 14; math, 18; reading, 17; and science, 19.

Out of a possible score of 32, the benchmarks for PLAN are: English, 15; math, 19; reading, 18; and science, 20 (See charts for details).

Berea Independent Schools

The school’s tenth-grade PLAN scores have continued to improve over the past three years, said Superintendent Mike Hogg. “And we are especially excited to see the growth in math.”

The percentage of students meeting benchmarks increased in all categories, including an increase of 11.7 percent in math, a subject in which students declined last year and Hogg called an “area of interest.”

A composite score of 18.0 placed Berea in the top 13 percent of school districts in the state and is 0.8 points above both state and national averages.

“The scores demonstrate the hard work our students and staff are putting forth on a daily basis,” said Donna Lovell, Berea’s middle/high school principal.

Eighth-graders’ EXPLORE composite score remained the same as last year at 15.6. Students showed gains in both science and English but dropped just tenths of a point in math and reading.

The percentage of students who reached benchmarks decreased by 3.3 percent in English and 1.3 percent in reading, but increased 2.2 percent in science and 9.5 percent in math.

“These scores demonstrate our staff’s commitment to providing high-quality, rigorous instruction that engages our students,” Hogg said. “The scores are nice for us to reflect on for a minute, but we have much more work to do on behalf of our kids.”

Madison County Schools

PLAN scores for the county’s tenth-graders stayed exactly the same in test subjects except for a 0.1-point increase in science. The composite score of 17.7 places Madison County students 0.5 points above state and national averages. 

While only a slight increase this year, all county middle schools have made “significant gains” in all tested areas during the past five years, said David Gilliam, chief academic officer.

In 2007, the middle school average was at or below state averages in all areas. But in 2013, middle school students scored above both state and national averages in all areas.

“These scores show that we have work to do, but we are moving in the right direction,” he said.

MCS showed an increase in the percentage of students who met benchmarks in math (+2.5 percent), English (+1 percent) and reading (+4.1 percent), while science dropped 2 percent.

Eighth-graders from the district’s five middle schools earned just above state and national averages with a 15.9 composite score on EXPLORE.

Scores improved in both English and reading, but remained unchanged in math and science.

The percentage of students who met benchmarks increased in all subject areas except for science, which dropped 4.3 percentage points.

“We will continue to utilize this (test) and other data sources to monitor the progress of our students and to make improvements to instruction,” said Superintendent Elmer Thomas.

Model Laboratory Schools

Model tenth-graders’ PLAN scores increased slightly in each subject area, with an overall composite score increase from 19.2 in 2012 to 19.6 in 2013.

The percentage of students meeting benchmarks remained almost the same in both English and science, but increased by nearly 19 percent in math while taking an almost 8-percent dip in reading. However, all scores ranked seventh and below in the state.

“Model Laboratory Middle School and High School students are proud of their high performance on the recent EXPLORE and PLAN assessments, which merited third- and fourth-place ranking respectively among other schools in the state,” said Director James Dantic.

Model middle-schoolers increased their EXPLORE scores slightly in each subject area, most notably in science, with a 1.2-point increase. The composite score went from 16.9 in 2012 to 18.5 in 2013.

The percentage of students who met benchmarks increase in each subject area, especially science, which went from 32 percent to 45.9 percent.

“Student achievement is indicative of the care and effort teachers invest in serving student learning needs at Model,” Dantic said.

Support from parents, coupled with Eastern Kentucky University and the College of Education, also contributed to students’ success, he said.