By Ethan Colbert
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Matthew Frederickson has known for a while that the Bowling Green R-I School District is a special place, where students are graduating with the skills necessary to be contributing members of society.
However, after last week’s announcement of the 2018 Annual Performance Report by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Frederickson and other members of the school district’s faculty now have the data to back up that belief.
According to the APR, the school district earned 117.2 points on its APR. The maximum score is 120 points.
“The APR is a score that we get that is a combination of measures,” Frederickson said. “It measures our effectiveness as a school district in five areas.”
According to DESE, the APR evaluates schools based on overall academic achievement, subgroup achievement, college and career readiness, attendance, and graduation rate.
Subgroup achievement refers to students who come from socio-economic groups, such as students of color, those who may require individualized educational plans from the special education office, to those who qualify for free and reduced lunch. These students have historically performed at a lower level than their peers, according to DESE.
According to the local school district’s grade report, the school district earned perfect scores in the subgroup achievement category, the college and career readiness category, and attendance category.
The district received 38.7 points out of a possible 40 points for the academic achievement and 28.5 out of possible 30 points for the graduation rate category.
In an interview with the Times following DESE’s release of the local district’s APR scores, Frederickson said he was proud of what these results show.
“I was proud to see those numbers,” Frederickson said. “As a district, we don’t put all of our efforts into one test, because we believe it is important for our students to be well-rounded individuals. So we support the arts, both visual and performing arts, we support vocational education and athletics. We know that all of those things go into a well-rounded and well-developed student who is going to contribute to society.”
A big part of the school district’s focus has been on preparing students for life after high school, according to Frederickson.
The local school district superintendent pointed to the portions of the APR that deal with college and career readiness as evidence of the success that the district has had in the last three years.
According to the APR, in 2016, the school’s average ACT score for the graduating class was 18 on the ACT. The district’s scores trailed the state and national average by more than two points.
Now, in 2018, the school’s average ACT score for the graduating class was 19.8 and within two-tenths of one point of the state average and one point of the national average.
“To see that kind of jump is just outstanding,” Frederickson said. “Our teachers have worked very hard on making sure the students have mastered these skills that are tested by the ACT and I couldn’t be more proud of their work.”
According to Frederickson, improved ACT’s scores are important, but equally as important is the ACT’s report on the percentage of high school graduates from BGHS that are prepared for college level coursework.
In 2017, fewer than 48 percent of the district’s graduates were prepared for a college level English course; fewer than 19 percent were prepared for a college level mathematics course; 26 percent were prepared for a college level social science course; 22 percent were prepared for college level biology course.
According to this year’s APR, there was a significant change in all of those numbers.
This year’s report details that 56 percent of last year’s graduates were prepared for college level English courses; 30 percent were ready for a college level mathematics course; 42 percent were prepared for a social science course; 36 percent were ready for a college level biology class.
It was not just college readiness that the school saw improved scores.
Students also tested higher in technical education and in vocational education courses. Vocational education at BGHS includes courses in business education, agriculture education, and family and consumer sciences.
For example, in 2016, the average number of BGHS students who took the state’s technical education exams scored on average 46.37 percent. The state average that year was 73.78 percent.
In 2018, students at BGHS tested at 76.47 percent, representing a 29.1 percent jump over the two years. This year’s state average was 73.46 percent.
Similarly, the district has also seen an increase in its students scores on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, test.
According to Frederickson, the most recent tests show that students at Bowling Green High School are consistently testing well above the average, with some students testing in the high 90s.
“Typical ASVAB scores are in the 50s, 60s, or 70s,” Frederickson said. “The fact that we have students testing in the high 90s is outstanding.”
According to the school superintendent, students that test in the 90s practically ensures that they will be able to enter the military field of their choice following graduation.
Frederickson said in his interview that these results — higher ACT scores, higher Technical Education scores, and higher ASVAB scores — should demonstrate to taxpayers and to district patrons that students in the Bowling Green R-I School District are receiving a quality education.
“If I am a taxpayer, and I don’t have someone in school, I am still interested in this report,” Frederickson said. “As a taxpayer, I would hopefully see these national measures and realize that there are some really things happening here. Specifically, taxpayers should know that the school district is being really good stewards of their tax dollars and that we are producing graduates who are college and career ready, which I think says a lot about the quality of education they are receiving here.”
While Frederickson said these results are cause for celebration, they are also
“snapshots of a moment in time” and that the district remains vigilant in its effort to fulfill its mission to produce well-rounded and well-educated adults.
“While a lot of the APR focuses on the high school, these things wouldn’t be possible without the fantastic teachers we have in the elementary who are doing some great things in their classrooms,” Frederickson said. “When you walk the hallways and meet our kids, you will realize that this is a special school district.”