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Eighth graders around the county took the EXPLORE test in September and one student came away with a perfect score.
The EXPLORE test is used in the Unbridled Learning accountability model to gauge how well schools are performing. Results from Unbridled Learning were published in last week’s The Springfield Sun.
The EXPLORE test that was taken in September will count towards next year’s Unbridled Learning scores. The good news is that two local schools are off to a good start.
Erin Taylor, an eighth grader at Washington County Middle School, earned an overall score of 25 out of 25 on her EXPLORE test, something that’s nearly unheard of, according to WCMS Principal Ty Howard.
“That’s incredible,” Howard said. “She blew it out of the water.”
As seventh graders, the students at both county middle schools were given a chance to take the EXPLORE test to gauge what areas needed improvement. The test is normally reserved for eighth graders, but a grant allowed Washington County students an early look.
Howard said that Taylor had an overall score of 25 on her exam in seventh grade, but her math score was a 23. Taylor improved, earning a 25 in all four areas test (English, reading, math, science).
Howard said Taylor does plan to attend college.
If she continues scoring this well, she’ll have colleges competing to recruit her, Howard said.
North Washington Middle School Principal Amanda Mattingly said the EXPLORE test is in preparation for the ACT and therefore is very much like the college-admittance test.
Both WCMS and NWMS scored above the national average as a whole.
Howard said WCMS scored 15.8 as a whole, with the national average at 15.5. Mattingly said NWMS scored 15.7 as a whole, slipping from 16.1 the previous year but still above national average.
Mattingly said she and her staff were very excited about the number of students that met all benchmarks on the test.
“That’s really, really difficult to do on the EXPLORE test,” she said. “We had seven students that met all four (benchmark)areas. So that was really, really exciting.”
Howard, who is new to WCMS this year, said the staff came up with a plan to improve on the first day of school and set some goals.
“We met three out of four goals that we set,” Howard said. “But the whole key in this test is how many kids you can get to benchmark scores in three areas. We had a whole bunch.”
Since the test is administered in September, Mattingly said that the eighth grade EXPLORE test results are a big reflection on instruction in the seventh grade year.
“When we bring our kids back in August, we focus on the instruction, but also a lot of our time goes into the test-taking skills and preparing them for that way,” she said.
For example, the staff knows that a lot of the science portion of the test involves interpreting and analyzing graphs.
“So we have to make sure that we’re getting them ready for that because it’s not necessarily just science concepts, it’s, ‘are you able to read and interpret a graph properly?’” Mattingly said.
Both principals were pleased with their school’s performance.
EXPLORE test results have not been officially released on the Kentucky Department of Education website.