Students at Fayette County Public Schools as a whole scored better than the state average on the ACT college readiness assessment in 2013-14, but district officials are reviewing data to see how more students can meet national benchmarks.
Scores for Fayette County's Class of 2014 showed that students who took a minimum of Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and geometry typically achieved higher math ACT scores, with an average of 22.4, compared to an average score of 16.8 for those who took less than three years of mathematics.
There were similar results in science among seniors who took biology and chemistry in combination with physics.
School board chairman John Price said reviewing the results would help teachers and counselors guide students.
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"The more rigorous classes our students take, the better prepared they are for ACT and college," said Price.
During the past few weeks, school board members have been reviewing two sets of data: scores of graduating seniors and scores of juniors who took the test in March. Among graduating seniors, Fayette County's composite score improved from 20.8 in 2010 to 21 in 2014, which exceeded the state's score of 19.9. Among juniors, the composite score rose from 19.8 to 20.6 over five years, which exceeded the state's 2014 score of 19.4.
For juniors, no Fayette County high school's score in science met the national benchmark of 24. Neither the state nor the district met national benchmarks in math, reading and science.
A benchmark score is the minimum needed in an ACT subject area test to indicate a 50 percent chance of obtaining a "B" or better or about a 75 percent chance of obtaining a C or better in a college course.
Lu Young, Fayette County's chief academic officer, said falling short of the national benchmark for juniors was not a huge cause for concern for the district because the benchmark was based on scores from juniors who were college-bound. Fayette County's scores were drawn from all juniors, she said. Under the state's accountability requirements, every junior has taken the ACT since 2008.
The junior class at Bryan Station High School was the only one among Lexington's five public high schools that did not meet the state's average score.
But Bryan Station, which has been classified by the state as a "priority school" because of a history of low academic achievement, is making gains. Its composite score increased from 17.1 in 2009 to 18 in 2014.
School board member Melissa Bacon said the district should hone in on every student, not just those who say they want to go to college.
Young said every school has a plan to help students who don't meet benchmarks.
"I see us trending in the right direction," she said.