Kentucky students scored higher on EXPLORE and PLAN tests in 2012, registering gains in every subject tested, according to data released today by the Kentucky Department of Education. The data also show more students are on track to be ready for college coursework by the time they graduate high school.
The EXPLORE test is given to all 8th-grade public school students and the PLAN test is given to all 10th-grade public school students in Kentucky each September. The assessments, precursors to the ACT college entrance exam given to all public high school juniors in the state each March, test knowledge in English, mathematics, reading and science.
“We’re extremely pleased with the results but are not surprised by them,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. “Since the implementation of Senate Bill 1 (2009), we’ve been focused on getting students ready for college and career. These test results are a clear indicator of the progress that teachers and students are making toward that goal.”
EXPLORE provides an early indicator of readiness for college, provides important information for building a high school academic plan and helps students identify careers in which they might be interested. PLAN serves as the midpoint check of academic progress in high school. It is designed to improve students’ preparation for education, training and work after high school while students still have time to adjust their high school courses.
“Both tests are important tools for educators, students and parents to use when planning for the future,” Holliday said. Individual student scores have already been sent home to parents. “These results should be a topic of discussion about whether students are adequately preparing themselves for life after high school,” he said.
In addition to higher scores, the data also show the percentage of students on track to be ready for credit-bearing college coursework increased up to 6 percent from 2011 — depending on grade and subject, and up to 13 percent since the tests were first given statewide in 2006.
“While we have made progress on getting students ready for college, we clearly have more work to do in this area,” said Holliday. “We also need to work on closing the gaps in performance between student groups to ensure all Kentucky students graduate college/career-ready.”
In the September 2012 administration, 49,486 8th-grade Kentucky students in 322 public schools took the EXPLORE assessment and on a scale of 1 to 25, scored within a tenth of a point — plus or minus — of the national norm.