Dramatic reduction in Allen Co. High grads needing remedial courses as college freshmen; participation in Advance Kentucky, AP courses cited in "good looking trend"

Citizen-Times, Scottsville, Sept. 18, 2014

School Board
“Advance,” Archery On Target
By Matt Pedigo

In its September regular session Monday, the Allen County Board of Education learned just how far Advance Kentucky has advanced here—and approved a new student archery program starting with the Allen County Intermediate Center.

In late January of 2011, state and local officials publicly announced that Allen County-Scottsville High School would join the Advance Kentucky initiative, which focused on expanding Advanced Placement (AP) courses—and student participation in them—in the state’s public high schools.

At the announcement, The Halton Company made a $10,000 donation to the program, and Modern Woodmen added another $2,500. The Laura Goad Turner Charitable Foundation also contributed, starting a cash rewards program for high-scoring AC-S AP students.

At Monday’s meeting, Director of Instruction Rick Fisher noted the early stages of the Advance initiative; James E. Bazzell Middle School teachers were trained for preparation courses; AC-S teachers who didn’t teach AP courses took free training offered under the program. AC-S teachers who did teach AP courses received more training. Educational resources were added, as were more AP courses.

Then after the Advance debut at AC-S, the results—based on Western Kentucky University data regarding incoming AC-S graduates—speak for themselves, Fisher said.

In the fall of 2012, almost 66 percent of AC-S graduates entering WKU had to take some form of remedial classes, because, at least in some subject areas, they weren’t academically prepared for collegiate-level work. That year, the state average was 54.2 percent.

A year later, things had changed little for AC-S, at 66 percent, though the state average had actually worsened, climbing to 63.4 percent.

But this fall marked the first incoming WKU freshman class to see AC-S students who had been through the entire three years of Advance AP courses. The change was dramatic: 90 percent of incoming AC-S graduates needed no remedial courses. As Fisher put it, “We’ve gone from only 30 percent who didn’t need remedial courses to only 10 percent who did need them.”

“It’s really begun to pay off with our kids in college readiness,” Fisher said.

It’s paying off for parents, too, Superintendent Randall Jackson noted—AC-S AP students can earn college credits for successfully completing many AP courses for free in high school, saving students and parents thousands of dollars in tuition costs.

Director of Operations Brian Carter—who was AC-S principal when Advance was first implemented—said AC-S faculty had also implemented Compass testing, academic interventions and more to help students.

“It’s a good-looking trend,” Fisher said. “Our folks at the high school are really making good use of the funding and resources we’ve got here.”

In other business:

# ACIC Principal Shawn Holland addressed the board concerning the establishment of an archery program at the school—a program that could sprout after-school clubs and even spread to other schools.

“It’s a great program, and there’s a lot of research behind it,” Holland said. “You don’t have to be a scholar or an athlete to participate.”

The program uses Mathews Genesis® compound bows, which, Holland said, can be used by virtually anyone, regardless of size or strength, accurately and safely.

Board Chairman Jeff Eaton asked if schools competed against one another. Holland said this could happen if the in-school program evolved to produce after-school competitive teams. Louisville hosted the national championship last year, and more than 500 Kentucky schools at varying grade levels are already participating, he added.

The board unanimously approved the program as part of the meeting’s consent agenda. Anyone interested in learning more about the program can call ACIC at (270) 618-8200.

# The board unanimously approved the district’s $35.4 million working budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. Highlights included a nearly $23.2-million General Fund, ongoing grants of $3.6 million, Capital Outlay funds of $265,000 and $2.5 million Building Fund.

# Director of Pupil Personnel Garry DeWitt reported attendance figures through the first month of the new school year.

“We’re down a little bit versus the first month last year,” he said, noting that the current figure was 96.32 percent, down slightly from 96.54 percent this time last year.

“We’re still above 96, so that’s a good percentage,” he said. “I wish we could stay up there.”

By grade, all but sixth, eighth, 10th and 11th grades showed slight declines versus the previous year’s totals.

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