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Schools interpret new test scores

BY KATHLEEN FOX kfox@paducahsun.com

Paducah and McCracken County schools reported two sets of test scores that help predict how students will fare on the ACT test and post-secondary work.

The Explore test, given to all eighth-grade public school students in Kentucky, and the Plan test, given to sophomores in the state's public schools, are components of the three-part Educational Planning and Assessment System (EPAS). The four subject areas, which mirror the ACT test, are English, mathematics, reading and science. The highest possible score on the Explorer test is 25 and on the Plan test is 32.

Both tests evaluate each student's college readiness. The Explore test focuses on tailoring an academic plan for high school years based on a student's potential career trajectory. The Plan test targets the preparedness level for post-high school educational, training or professional programs, according to McCracken assistant Superintendent Heath Cartwright.

He emphasized the success and growth of county students in both sets of test results. For the Explore test, all three county middle schools - Heath, Reidland and Lone Oak - recorded the historically highest composite scores and improved in every subject area. McCracken's composite score was 14th of the state's 173 districts, in the top 8 percent. Lone Oak Middle School led the district in the top 6 percent, and every middle school was in the top 25 percent.

For the Plan test, county students also improved in all areas, posting the highest composite score ever and ranking 11th of 168 districts, excluding kindergarten to eighth-grade districts, to rank in the top 7 percent statewide. The sophomore class improved from 36th last year to 11th this year, according to Cartwright.

He also pointed to the development shown by the eighth-grade class from 2011, currently sophomores, which ranked 30th, compared with the current eighth-grade class ranking of 14th across Kentucky.

"We believe we will continue to see these gains for years with the new high school and are excited to see what the scores are going to look like in another couple of years," he said.

For Paducah Public Schools, individual scores for the Explore subject areas declined slightly from the previous year and the composite score decreased from 15.6 to 15.0 at Paducah Middle School, according to assistant Superintendent Donald Shively.

He said the composite Plan scores at Paducah Tilghman High School stayed at 17.5 from year to year, which is above the national and state averages of 17.2, and in the top 26 percent statewide. Students improved in English and reading and were above or on par with state averages in all subject areas.

"We continue to be focused on each individual student's scores and what we need to do for each student to ensure we see that they achieve their highest ACT score possible before they graduate," he said.

Juniors across the state will take the ACT, required by the Kentucky Department of Education, on Tuesday with the make-up day set for March 18.

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

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