HHS ACT test scores tumble

News editor

After hovering around 24 for several years, Hillsboro High School’s average composite score on the ACT college entrance exam fell to 22.4 in the spring of 2012, USD 410 Superintendent Steve Noble and district curriculum director Greg Brown said.

The class of 2012 had the fewest students take the test of the past several years, with 30. Average subject area scores were 21.5 in English, 22.8 in math, 22.4 in science, and 22.1 in reading. The average reading score was below the state average.

Only 23 percent — seven students — met the test’s benchmarks for college readiness in all four subject areas. The ACT projects that a student who meets the benchmark is 50 percent likely to get a B or better on related college coursework and 75 percent likely to get at least a C.

Noble and Brown didn’t try to downplay the dip in scores. Brown said that as a principal and former high school math teacher, he puts a lot of stock in the ACT’s college readiness evaluation.

Noble said he wants to emphasize ACT testing more in the future, and he proposed giving the ACT to every HHS senior at the district’s expense starting in the spring.

“Nothing drives instruction more than assessment,” Noble said. “You do what gets measured.”

State assessments

The district as a whole did not meet the Adequate Yearly Progress requirements of No Child Left Behind in spring 2012 assessments, Brown said. The reason was because the district didn’t meet AYP in a single subgroup, special education. If even one subgroup doesn’t meet AYP, the whole district doesn’t meet AYP.

There is a 2 percent cap on the number of students who may take a modified or alternate assessment, regardless of what a special education individual education plan determines is best for a student, Noble said. The district chose to administer modified assessments to those students who needed it, regardless of the cap for AYP, he said.

“We will not give the general assessment just to meet the cap,” Noble said.

No Child Left Behind and AYP are lame-duck educational policies, though. The assessments will be given again in spring 2013, but the results will have no effect on schools, Noble said.

Despite missing AYP as a district, many classes earned the standard of excellence on the assessments. Hillsboro Elementary School earned standard of excellence on five of six math and reading assessments, and 100 percent of fifth grade math students met or exceeded standards. Hillsboro Middle School earned standard of excellence on all six math and reading assessments. Hillsboro High School earned standard of excellence on math and reading.

New standards

Kansas is transitioning to a new standard for schools, called Common Core Standards. The system is still in early stages of development, but it will include six measurable objectives, Brown said: improving achievement, increasing growth, decreasing gaps in testing scores, reducing the number of nonproficient students, increasing participation rates, and increasing graduation rates.

One big change is a likelihood of moving many math concepts up two years, so fifth graders would learn some of what seventh graders are now learning in math, Brown said.

The new standards will likely use an index that accounts for high performing students, rather than just measuring whether a student meets standards or doesn’t, Noble said.

In other business:

  • The enrollment head count is up seven students from this time last year but down eight from budget projections, Noble said.
  • Head cook Teresa Bernhardt gave a presentation about changes in school lunch requirements. The biggest change is reducing calories of meals.
  • Elcon Electric was awarded a bid to install new lights in the high school and middle school gymnasiums for a price of $30,820. Funk Electric bid $36,387.73. The new lights will use less electricity and reach full brightness much faster than the lights that are in the gyms now.
  • The board agreed to pay $14,088 for engineering on a Safe Routes to School project. The City of Hillsboro received a $250,000 grant to improve walking routes to schools, and the school district’s payment will provide half of the cost of engineering for the project.
  • Former Tabor College women’s basketball player Mallory Shewey was hired as the new HMS head girls’ basketball coach.
  • Sarah Simington was hired to drive a special education bus route to McPherson twice a week.
  • Carmen Jones was hired as a Parents as Teachers parent educator.

The board will have a special goal-setting meeting at 6 p.m. Oct. 17.

 

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