Highland News Leader

Highland beats state averages on standardized tests but SAT scores drop by double digits

Highland High School students take notes in an algebra class.
Highland High School students take notes in an algebra class. kmansouri@bnd.com

Highland students are testing above the state average in both the SAT and PARCC tests, but the district saw significant drops in mathematics and English and language arts proficiency on the SAT.

Results of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Scholastic Assessment Test were released this week. The results show the percentage of students meeting or exceeding state proficiency standards for students third-through eighth-grades for the PARCC and the class of 2019 for the SAT.

Highland District 5 Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Derek Hacke said overall the scores reflected positively on the district. The class of 2019’s SAT scores were slightly above the state average, but below last year’s scores.

As for PARCC scores, Hacke said the district was pleased with the results. Highland students reached a four-year high on the mathematics portion of the test with 42 percent of students district-wide meeting or exceeding, 6 percent more than in 2015.

In English and language arts, 53 percent of the district students tested met or exceeded standards, 16 percent higher than the state average. The district’s math average also was roughly 10 percent above the state average.

Hacke said being over the state average is a positive for the district, but touted reaching a new high in mathematics and matching the district’s ELA high as highlights of this year’s testing.

“We’re pleased with what PARCC is showing. Obviously, we want to keep improving but we’re showing some positive results and all of our folks working together is why that’s happening,” Hacke said. “We like that trend and we want to continue growing it.”

Rising mathematics proficiency, Hacke said, are reflective of the solid curriculum throughout the district. He said the school district has been using a mostly identical curriculum for pre-high school mathematics.

“We feel like we’ve got solid curriculum,” Hacke said. “They’re showing skills that we weren’t seeing in the past few years. That’s a result of being in a solid curriculum.”

While the district saw improvements on the PARCC test, the number of students who meet or exceed proficiency on the SAT dropped from last year’s amount. Hacke said that can be attributed to different classes of students having different strengths and weaknesses.

“Our scores weren’t quite as high as they were the previous year and that can just be variation between different classes,” Hacke said. “Different classes and different cohorts of kids are going to have different strengths.”

In English and language arts, the class of 2019 had roughly 39 percent of students meeting or exceeding requirements, roughly 2 percent higher than the state average, but 10 percent lower than last year’s scores.

In mathematics, the class 38 percent met or exceeded proficiency, roughly 4 percent better than the state average, but 12 percent lower than last year’s percentage.

Those drops are reflective of the state average for both mathematics and English and language arts, which both dropped by 3 percent. Hacke said

While SAT scores dropped by double digits, this year also marked another year of increased graduation rates at the high school. The class of 2018 saw 92 percent of its students graduate, roughly 4 percent higher than the 2013 total.

Under the threshold of proficiency, 21 percent of HHS students partially met standards and 41 percent were approaching proficiency. Twenty-four percent of students partially met mathematics standards, with 38 percent of students approaching. That’s an improvement over the last class of 2018’s score, which had 18 percent partially meeting, 33 percent approach.

Hacke said currently the district isn’t working on any initiatives to raise those scores but noted that teachers reflect on the scores each year to work on strengths and weaknesses within each class. He said the curriculum often evolves with the tests.

“We don’t have any huge initiatives underway right now. But our teachers do a great job of evaluating the curriculum, making adjustments and changes and upgrading weaknesses they see with students skills and or strengths,” Hacke said. “The curriculum isn’t stagnant one year to the next, it’s always evolving and trying to address the needs of that group of kids.”

Kavahn Mansouri: 618-239-2507,

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