Insight on Education
By Superintendent Janet L. Meeks
Two years ago, the Breckinridge County Board of Education tried to pass an increase over the compensating tax rate plus the nickel tax. A petition was started, signatures were acquired, and the possibility for new schools in our county seemed bleak. Many cuts have been made to the budget over the past few years; administrative costs have been cut; programs have been cut; debts have been paid, and other debts have been refinanced at lower interest rates. In addition, a group of individuals has bombarded Frankfort, meeting with legislators, the School Facilities Construction Commission, the Kentucky Department of Education’s Facilities Branch, and the Commissioner of Education in an effort to receive assistance with our county’s needs. Once again, an opportunity comes around for us to determine how new schools can come to fruition.
The Board is proposing, for the first time in many years, the compensating rate which is the rate that provides the same revenue as last year. They also chose to include the nickel tax which can be matched by the state and can only be used for facilities. This compromise creates a tax rate that is only 3 cents over the rate we typically take. For example, the rate we would normally take is 52.3, and with this proposal it would be 55.3. Additionally, the Board has offered to take the compensating rate over the next few years in an effort to bring the tax rate down following the match from the state. This is a great compromise, because it gives students the facilities they deserve and creates a short-term tax increase for our community. It is also a good-faith effort to demonstrate that the compensating rate will be taken in the future.
I realize that not everyone has children in this school district, but in a small town, I am sure that you have connections with families, neighbors, and friends who do. It is going to take everyone’s help in supporting this effort. The result will make a difference for many years to come, both for our students and for our community. There will be information available at every school. Likewise, I am available to discuss any concern you may have. Only with your support can we make this happen.
Insight on Education
By Superintendent Janet L. Meeks
The ACT is a national college admissions exam that measures potential success in higher education. Most colleges require the ACT to be taken prior to admittance, and scores are evaluated to determine if additional testing or enrollment in remedial coursework is necessary. The overall test consists of 215 multiple choice questions and takes approximately 3 ½ hours to complete. Breckinridge County High School is one of thousands of test sites across the nation. This allows our students to have opportunities to take the exam in a familiar school setting.
There are five subject tests with the ACT – English, Mathematics, Reading, Science, and an optional Writing test. The ACT Writing test, along with the SAT, an aptitude and reasoning test, is required by some universities, particularly the northeastern states. Students should decide whether or not to take the Writing test and the SAT based upon the requirements of the universities he/she is considering. The Writing test is a 30-minute essay that measures one’s writing abilities in comparison to the skills required for high school coursework and college entrance-level composition courses.
The English test consists of 75 questions about punctuation, grammar and correct usage, and sentence structure. Students are given five essays or passages with 45 minutes to read and respond. Parts of the passages are underlined, and the corresponding questions are related to the portion that is underlined.
The Mathematics test includes 60 questions that must be answered in 60 minutes. This test measures reasoning skills needed to solve practical math problems. It requires knowledge of basic formulas and computational skills that students have obtained throughout their educational careers. Calculators are allowed for this test, but these must be approved prior to admittance into the testing room.
The Reading test requires students to read several passages, and it measures their reading comprehension. Students must be able to identify main ideas and passage details, understand a sequence of events and cause-effect relationships, and they must also be able to draw generalizations regarding information from the passages. There are 40 questions in this 35-minute test.
The Science test also include 40 questions in a 35-minute time frame. This test requires students to analyze and interpret scientific data from graphs, tables, and charts. Students must also examine hypotheses and conflicting viewpoints and be able to draw conclusions and make predictions.
Benchmarks have been established for each of these tests based on how hundreds of thousands of students have scored. These benchmarks serve as a predictor of achievement in initial college coursework. The benchmark for English is 18; Mathematics is 19; Reading is 20; and Science is 24. Any score falling below these benchmarks requires additional testing at some colleges and remedial coursework at most. This remedial coursework comes with the same expense as other college courses, but no credit toward the degree is earned. Therefore, it is extremely important for students to obtain these benchmark scores at minimum.
What parents may not know is that students can take the ACT up to twelve times. When I was in school, I took the test once my junior year and again my senior year. With scholarships and opportunities becoming more and more competitive, it is extremely important that students be able to perform well on this type of exam. Learning how to take timed tests is a critical skill, one that is simulated for students at the high school to help prepare them for the ACT. All high school juniors take the exam as part of the new statewide accountability system. However, students can take the exam at additional times. For more information, please log onto www.actstudent.org. This site offers general test-taking strategies, practice questions, online registration, and rules pertaining to the ACT.
In closing, I would like to commend our senior class for their latest test results. The ACT was administered to them during the 13-14 school year. This class obtained the highest ACT composite score in BCHS history with all subject area tests making historic gains as well. What a wonderful way to start a school year! I’m certain that this congratulations will be the first of many.
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