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Harlan High among top in ACT scores in Kentucky

With an average composite score of 21.3, the 2020 graduates of Harlan High School helped continue the trend of strong ACT scores for the Harlan Independent School District. HHS students outperformed students from across the region and state on the ACT exam, which is given each year to juniors across the commonwealth.

Recent data provided by the Kentucky Department of Education shows students across Kentucky scored an average composite of 19.0. This marks the eighth-straight year HHS students have outpaced students in Kentucky in all areas of the assessment.

The ACT consists of curriculum-based tests of educational development in English, mathematics, reading and science, designed to measure the skills needed for success in first-year college coursework. ACT scores for HHS students also exceed national levels in English, reading and overall composite scores.

College readiness benchmark scores for designated college courses is the minimum score needed on an ACT subject area test to indicate a 50 percent chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75 percent chance of obtaining a C or higher in the corresponding credit bearing college course.

“We know that high ACT scores are a strong indicator of college readiness for students, but it is also evidence of the tremendous work done by students and teachers in the classroom,” said Superintendent C.D. Morton. “To be in the top 10 of the 172 Kentucky school districts is no accident. It comes from a deliberate focus on student outcomes and a culture that supports student success. It is a system that produces results that we can all take great pride in. The quality of life for our students is directly related to how well we are preparing them for the future, and we are working to make sure there are no cracks in the foundation.”

Establishing a growth mindset and mastery of content has enabled HHS teachers to challenge students to meet high expectations year after year.

Supervisor of instruction, Jennifer Parsons, said, “Our teachers really know their content well and do an excellent job of getting students to grow in their understanding and application of their material. We have a seasoned staff that has the luxury of being able to talk with teachers in other content areas and collaborate around the success of every student. The results speak for themselves.”

High ACT scores for students can open doors for college acceptance and is an important factor in the financial formula for Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) funding. Students scoring well on the ACT can receive a scholarship bonus up to $2,000 for tuition over a 4-year period.

Morton noted the importance of being well prepared for the ACT pays off in a variety of ways that are important to families.

“If a student has been prepared well for the ACT, not only are they going to receive more money from KEES at the start of their college career, but they are more likely to be able to meet requirements to be successful while in college enabling them to keep the scholarship funds for future years,” he said. “We want our students to be prepared to not only enter college but to finish college.”

HHS principal Britt Lawson praised teachers and students for consistently rising to the challenge. Pointing out that HHS students are regularly among the top 20 in Kentucky each year.

“The teachers and students do a wonderful job together,” Lawson said. “It takes teachers who know their content well and students who are serious about being prepared for their future. The fact that we are able to perform at a high level each year really shows that our teachers are able to help all students learn at a high level.”