The Richmond Register

December 18, 2012

Test scores in for county middle, high schools

Assessing college-and career-readiness

By Crystal Wylie
Register News Writer

MADISON COUNTY — Results are in for the EXPLORE and PLAN tests, which were administered to Madison County 8th and 10th 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 new accountability system.

Students who meet or exceed determined benchmarks on these tests are considered to be college- and career-ready (see chart for benchmarks).

Berea Community School

Berea’s 10th-grade students scores were similar to state averages, with some categories within just tenths of points. The overall composite score (17) was the same as the state and just 0.2 below the national average.

Gains were made in both reading and science, but scores dropped in both English and Math.

Only 18 percent of 10th-graders met the PLAN math benchmark of 19, down from 23.5 percent that met the national benchmark last year. Statewide, 36 percent of students met the benchmark.

“Students have shown tremendous growth, but we want all of those kids meeting benchmarks,” Superintendent Mike Hogg said. “Math is our area of interest. We are not where we want to be and not where we’re going to be.”

Berea’s 8th-grade students scored above all EXPLORE national averages with the exception of math, lagging behind the national average (15.5) by 0.2.

Hogg conducted an “apples to apples” comparison of the same cohort of students who took EXPLORE in 8th-grade and PLAN in 10th-grade and found they had double-digit growth in the percentage of students meeting benchmarks in every category with the exception of math.

Berea hired a math coach in July who is working with math teachers to re-align the curriculum and establish the best instructional practices, he said.

“We’re building the capacity to do a great job with mathematics,” Hogg said. “We’re looking for solid growth when we get results back next year.”

Madison County Schools

As a district, Madison County Schools increased its composite PLAN score to 17.5, up from 17.2 last year. This score also is 0.5 higher than the state average.

The county district’s two high schools are both above state averages in all categories except for math. But, over the past five years, the high schools have shown “steady gains” in all tested subjects, said Randy Peffer, the district’s chief academic officer.

“It is evident that district and school initiatives are working to prepare students for college and career readiness,” Peffer said. “More importantly, without the hard work of teachers and administrators in each of our middle and high schools, these gains would not be possible.”

The county’s middle schools made improvements in all categories since last year, with a few exceptions. B. Michael Caudill and Farristown schools each lost a few tenths of a point in reading. Foley was down in English, reading and science, but maintained the same average in math, 15.1.

Over the past five years, however, the middle schools have been able to raise their average composite score from 14.8 to 15.7. This means, the district middle school average was at or below the state average five years ago. In 2012, the district middle school average is above state average in all tested areas.

Model Laboratory School

Model’s 10th-grade students scored well above both national and state PLAN averages and exceeded the benchmarks in every category.

Although the reading average was down from last year, it is 1.8 points above the benchmark for college-readiness.  

Model’s scores fell slightly in each category on the EXPLORE test, which is administered to 8th-graders.

Score averages exceeded the benchmarks in both English and Reading, but were just short of the goals in math and science.

“As Model teachers continue to work through the transition to the state’s KPREP and the integration of Common Core Curriculum, our focus continues to be on educating the individual student in order to make each child college and career ready upon graduation,” said James Dantic, Model’s director.

“Best practices, differentiation and high expectations continue to be the bedrock of instruction at Model,” he said. “These scores reflect those values and the efforts made by teachers and students in collaboration with supportive parents.”

Crystal Wylie can be reached at or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.