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Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012

Olathe, Gardner, Spring Hill meet or beat average on ACT scores

dbormann@theolathenews.com

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ACT’s reality check ACT college entrance exam scores this week showed a mix of ups and downs that, overall, carried on a flat line in performance gains.

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2010-11 ACT Score 2011-12 ACT Score
Kansas22.021.9
U.S. 21.121.1
KANSAS DISTRICTS
Olathe
Olathe East24.724.1
Olathe North22.422.7
Olathe Northwest23.824.1
Olathe South22.923.6
Spring Hill
Spring Hill High22.221.9
Insight School of Kansas19.722.6
Gardner Edgerton
Gardner Edgerton23.123.2

Olathe, Gardner Edgerton and Spring Hill school districts once again scored at or above state and national averages on the ACT.

Scores at the three districts continued to make slight changes up or down, according to results released this week.

Olathe School District officials celebrated an all-time high ACT composite score of 23.7 for the district.

“We are very proud of the latest ACT test results,” Olathe Deputy Superintendent Alison Banikowski said. “We have a high percentage of students taking the ACT test and the students have performed well. Along with the efforts of our students, these results were achieved by our outstanding teaching and administrative staff at the four high schools.”

About 75 percent of the graduating class took the exam, said Mary Matthew, the district’s director of school improvement, assessment and extended learning.

At Spring Hill High School, scores dipped by a slight margin but the number of students taking the test increased substantially. In 2011, 98 graduating seniors participated and scored 22.2. In 2012, 133 graduating seniors participated and scored 21.9.

District officials said the push is on to have students take more rigorous classes that prepare them for life after high school.

“Looking beyond composite scores, it is clear that taking upper-level courses throughout high school improves students’ achievement on the ACT and better prepares them for post-secondary education,” said Karen Brack, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment.

Gardner Edgerton also pushed more students to take the ACT last year and seniors logged a slight increase.

District officials said 167 seniors took the test last year compared with 145 the previous year.

The district has also encouraged its students to take college-level courses for dual credit from the high school and Johnson County Community College. As always, the district will use the test results to fine tune its coursework.

“The ACT results are valuable because they provide an additional indicator for our district to assess our curriculum with respect to college and career readiness for students,” said Bill Gilhaus, Gardner Edgerton superintendent.

The statistically small increases or dips at every school district in Johnson County play into a national story of largely dormant scores.

ACT scores, which measure science reasoning, math, reading and English, have remained stagnant for years despite efforts to improve academic success. Many state education departments including Kansas put a strong emphasis on grade level proficiency in order to meet the federal demands of No Child Left Behind. However that’s changing as Kansas and others work to implement common core standards, which are more heavily focused on college and career readiness.

Area school districts have said they’re working hard to adjust their coursework to reflect the core standards. Parents will begin to see that change this year and beyond.

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