Semmel: SHS students are excelling in academics

By Lindsay Carey
Staff Writer
Southington High School (SHS) Principal Dr. Martin Semmel shared the High School Academic Report for 2014 at last week’s Board of Education meeting.
The report compared test results of Southington students to the state as a whole for the ACT, the SAT and CAPT. Semmel’s report also included information regarding Advance Placement (AP) classes and college acceptance rates.
Semmel shared the ACT information for SHS students between 2010 and 2014.
“The ACT in the country, and really in New England, is starting to grow,” said Semmel. “I think it’s good to just put this out there this year so we can have more conversation about that, because I believe our numbers will continue to grow at a faster rate.”
According to his report, students taking the ACT increased from 88 students in 2010 to 106 in 2014.
The state of Connecticut has also increased the number of students who take the ACT. It has grown from 10,453 to 12,044 students. Percentages regarding the scores for subjects English, math, reading and science on the ACT were included in reference to the Benchmark Score.
According to Semmel’s presentation, the Benchmark Score is “the minimum score needed in an ACT subject-area test to indicate a 50 percent chance of obtaining a B or higher or a 75 percent chance of obtaining a C or higher” in a college course.
One of the more impressive statistics was the math scores for SHS. These scores have increased from 67 percent in 2010 to 93 percent in 2014, which is well above the state score of 69 percent this year.
SAT scores also reflected an upwards trend. Over the years, more and more students have been taking the SAT. In 2010, 69 percent of SHS students took the SAT, while in 2014, 80 percent of SHS students took the test.
“We always want to have as many of our kids to take this as possible, because I never know what my kids are going to do after high school,” said Semmel. “And even if they decide to go to a trade school that may not need an SAT scores. They don’t know what they’re going to do ten years after high school and having an SAT score does not hurt that.”
Southington students combined scores on the SAT exceeded both the national average and the state average in 2014. The national average was 1497 and the state average was 1425, while the SHS 2014 average was 1574.
In order to meet the needs of the exceling student body at SHS more Advanced Placement (AP) courses have been offered each year. The school report revealed that during the 2011-12 year there were 12 AP courses offered at SHS. This year, there are 18 AP courses available to SHS students.
“I’m expected over the next year or two the Curriculum Instruction Committee will start seeing some recommendations for yet another one or two classes that we’re looking to add,” said Semmel. “You might hear about a human geography class, you might hear about an AP economics class, so we’re looking at other courses.”
Students at SHS can take more than one AP course, so Semmel include the amount of seats available for all AP courses at SHS in his report.
In 2010, 349 seats in AP courses were being taken at SHS. However by 2014, 559 seats in AP courses were taken.
“For this school year we actually have 733 seats of AP are being taken,” said Semmel.
The total number of AP students at SHS in 2010 was 211, by 2014 the number increased to 254. Semmel said that this year, there are a total of about 350 students enrolled in AP courses.
“To me that’s really an exciting number, that we had that many more kids taking AP classes,” said Semmel. “I don’t worry about kids getting college credit for these AP classes, my biggest concern is that they have the opportunity to take a college level course before they graduate high school.”
All of these test scores and courses make a difference in college acceptance. In 2014, 88.5 percent of students continued on to a post-secondary educational institution. The report revealed that 61. 9 percent of graduates went on to attend four year colleges, while 25 percent went on to attend two year colleges.
Semmel said many people are surprised to find out where SHS ranks in post-secondary education.
“I was having a conversation with a parent not too long ago and I told him that we’re close to 90 percent of our students going on to four year and two year colleges,” said Semmel. “And they were like, ‘Wow that many!’”
Semmel’s report also included the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) scores of SHS students. The CAPT test results are measured from level below basic, basic, proficient, goal and advanced.
In 2014, SHS 481 students took CAPT. According to Semmel’s report, about 91 percent of these students tested at or above the proficiency and 64 percent tested at or above goal.
Despite the majority of students testing well, Semmel said that he would like to get more resources to address students that are testing at a low level.
“We should never ever forget about the group that tests at the below basic level,” said Semmel. “I’ve still got kids reading at the fifth grade level who are coming to high school. I know teachers have been working hard with them from K to up to where they are now, but we can’t just say “Oh well.’”SHSKnightsHeader1

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