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ACT Releases Kentucky Test Results, Education Officials Also Release Their Version

The ACT testing company has released its annual college and career readiness report and it shows a drop in reading scores for Kentucky’s 2013 graduating class. But state education officials say that’s because the ACT has changed the way it measures reading and the state is not using the same benchmark system.The ACT sets benchmark scores in English, reading, math and science that students must meet to be determined college-ready. However, the Kentucky's Council on Postsecondary Education also sets separate benchmarks to determine college readiness based on Kentucky's postsecondary institutions.This makes it difficult to compare the two results.According to the ACT, 36 percent of Kentucky graduates meet the reading benchmark. In Kentucky, that number is 48 percent because of the standards set by CPE. The ACT says 30 percent of Kentucky students are meeting the math benchmark, while the CPE says 43 percent are. Part of the disparity is also caused by changes made to the way ACT is measuring scores now. First, the ACT has raised the reading benchmark this year by a point, which may explain the drop in the number of Kentucky students meeting the mark from 44 to 36 percent, according to ACT. Secondly, the ACT is including the scores of students who need extra time on their exams. That hasn't been included in previous years. “And in Kentucky that’s a relatively large group, about 7 percent,” says Rebecca Blessing, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Education. “Those are students who typically don’t score quite as high so that too could be part of the reason that some of the scores didn’t look quite like they’ve looked in previous years.” Nationally, 4 percent of students received extended time, Blessing says. Also keep in mind that KDE is only reporting data on public school students in their report, while the ACT’s report includes public and private school students who graduated in 2013. This is not the ACT data that will be used in the fall assessments that come out later this year, KDE says. Finally, Kentucky is one of nine states that test 100 percent of its students, which may also account for some of the lower scores. Overall composite scores on the ACT's college readiness exam--which tests English, reading, math and science--are up slightly from the 2012 graduating class, but still lag 1.4 points behind the national average.

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday says despite the gains the results are moving more slowly then he’d like.