Tuesday, March 4, 2014

College and Career Ready

The following is the sixth in a series of monthly articles from Webster County High School regarding efforts to help students earn the distinction of College and/or Career Ready, which is a key component of the Kentucky Department of Education’s “Unbridled Learning” accountability initiative aimed at producing graduates that are better prepared for the rigor of college-level coursework and the increasing demands of the world of work and a global economy.  This month’s focus is the ACT. 

by Tim Roy. 
WCHS principal

“Use a number 2 pencil, completely fill in your circles and make your mark dark.”  The time has finally arrived for our WCHS juniors to hear those final instructions and to put their hard work from the school year into practice.  Tuesday, March 4 is ACT day across the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  On that day, every high school junior from Pikeville to Paducah will focus their attention toward achievement on the English, Math, Reading, and Science sections of an assessment that will likely have a big impact on not only their senior year, but also their plans for next steps after high school.    
For much of the school year, a portion of each day’s curriculum has been designed to identify our juniors’ ACT strengths and weaknesses and to allow our teachers to work with them in order to improve in the areas needed so that they are ready for the ACT, next Tuesday.  For many of our juniors, this will be the first time they have officially taken the assessment.  For others, this will just be another opportunity to improve upon already-received scores.  Regardless, our teachers have worked with all juniors on practice exercises and various diagnostic and formative assessments throughout the year in order to prepare them for this important day.    
As we are becoming increasingly aware, performance on the ACT is being used by many to determine which graduates are admitted to colleges/universities; which students will receiveacademic and athletic scholarships; which students can qualify for specific college programs; and which candidates can be employed in various jobs in business and industry.  In order to prepare our students to be candidates in all of those instances, WCHS is upping the ante when it comes to expectations for student performance on the ACT.  
Many of our newest policies are focusing on requiring students to have already met ACT benchmarks in order to be eligible to serve as Teachers Aides and Peer Tutors or to earn an Honors diploma.  The latest high school graduation requirements for the Commonwealth mandate that schools must provide remedial (or “transition”) courses during the 12th grade year to high school seniors who have not reached benchmark scores.  We’re in the process of planning those courses so that we’ll be ready to provide that opportunity to next year’s seniors.   
 As you can see, it is becoming increasingly important for our students to strive for and earn those benchmark scores in order to create future opportunities for themselves.  Tuesday is the testing ground to prove just where our juniors stack up in relation to the ACT benchmark scores.  For a variety of reasons, the scores our juniors earn on Tuesday are very important for them, our school and our community.    
Over the next few days, we hope you will join with us to encourage any WCHS junior you see and remind them just how important this is for our whole community.  In addition to the implications for school and district accountability, ACT scores should bring a sense of pride to the local community.  We hope that the scores our juniors receive, this year, will be something you can be proud of.

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