By TRAVIS MORSE firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — This article is the first in a four-part series on Illinois School Report Card data.
MT. VERNON — Mt. Vernon Township High School experienced gains in reading but losses in math, according to recent state test results in the district's School Report Card.
For the 2012-2013 school year, 46 percent of MVTHS students met or exceeded state standards on the overall Prairie State Achievement Examination.
This is up from the district's total of 45 percent in 2011-2012, but below the state average of 53 percent.
In reading, 50 percent of MVTHS students met or exceeded the PSAE standards in 2012-2013, compared to 46 percent in 2011-2012 and the state average of 55 percent.
The district's scores, however, dropped slightly in math as 43 percent of students met or exceeded the standards in 2012-2013, compared to 45 percent the previous year and the state average of 52 percent.
In science for 2012-2013, the district remained at 43 percent, the same as the prior year. The state average in that category was 49 percent.
Superintendent Michael Smith said the district recently set a goal of increasing its scores by 3 percent each year, meaning MVTHS exceeded its goal for reading in 2012-2013 but fell short in math and science.
These results come after notable gains during the prior two years, Smith said. School officials plan to hold strategic planning sessions in the near future to look at how test scores can be improved, he said.
“The game plan we've had in place has worked very, very well,” Smith said. “There was an anomaly this year (in that) we lost a little ground. That's something we're going to take a serious look at and come up with strategies to get that figured out.”
Assistant Principal Rob Pipher said he was pleased to see the overall PSAE scores increase, but that he'd like to see more growth in the future.
Currently, school officials are working to develop a structure whereby individual students can improve their performance, Pipher said.
“Growth is always our goal,” Pipher said.
The School Report Card data is released annually by the Illinois State Board of Education.
According to Smith, school officials will make a special presentation on the data at the next MVTHS Board of Education meeting Nov. 19.
The PSAE includes the ACT test, a WorkKeys exam and a state-developed science test.
Last month, MVTHS officials released information on just the ACT portion of the PSAE, where the district achieved some gains in 2012-2013.
MVTHS students had an average composite score of 19 on the ACT exams this past spring, up from the previous year's score of 18.8.
According to the School Report Card, 41 percent of MVTHS students met or exceeded college readiness standards on the ACT in 2012-2013. This is up from the prior year's 38 percent, but below the state average of 46 percent.
“We actually exceeded our ACT goal,” Smith said.
Also in 2012-2013, the average class size at MVTHS was 16 and the school had a total enrollment of 1,284, the School Report Card states.
Student attendance remained at 94 percent that year, the same as in 2011-2012 and equal to the state average.
In addition, the district's chronic truancy rate fell from 8 percent to 4 percent in 2012-2013. This total is also below the state average of 10 percent.
All of the School Report Card data on MVTHS can be viewed at www.illinoisreportcard.com.