Bullitt County getting the word about ACT performance

Improvement is unlikely if only the high schools get involved

It looks like educators in the Bullitt County Public School District are catching on – strong performance on the ACT college entrance test is important for all students in the district, and real performance improvement will take involvement of all schools: elementary, middle and high schools.

Bullitt County educators are not happy about their current ACT performance, nor should they be. As the Pioneer News reports, their district ranks in 111th place for their 11th grade students’ performance on recently released ACT testing from the 2009-10 school term. That is not an impressive rank among the 169 Kentucky school districts that have high schools (Note: the news report got the number of districts wrong). Furthermore, Kentucky Department of Education data show only 16.2 percent of the district’s students scored high enough on the ACT math test to be considered likely to do well in a freshman college algebra course.

But, Bullitt County’s reaction to the sobering news is rather remarkable, and hopeful.

The district brought in Dr. Debbie Powers, Executive director of the University of Louisville’s Kentucky Principals Academy, to lead a meeting of all the district’s elementary, middle and high school principals, vice principals, counselors, instructional coaches and data managers.

Let me reemphasize that: Bullitt County is getting ALL of its key school leaders involved, not just the high school teams.

Both Powers and Bullitt County clearly understand that the district needs to address ACT performance with a coordinated program that involves every school, not just the high schools.

Better ACT performance doesn’t magically appear in the high schools. It is a long-term proposition where the efforts from elementary school to high school must be carefully coordinated if really dramatic improvement is to occur.

Hats off to Bullitt County for taking these important first steps!