Test Scores. Proficiency. Standards. Performance. Testing. Testing. Testing…
As much as we may hate to admit it, test scores are a huge part of justifying our agriculture programs. In a world of budget cuts and funding shortages for education, it is worth our time to take standardized assessments seriously. For Wes York and his co-teacher Magen Woods, test scores have helped prove the value of their agriculture program to their students, administrators and community. York and Woods are agriculture teachers at Caldwell County High School in Princeton, Ky.
“Our agriculture students score consistently above school and state averages on the ACT and on state End of Course examinations,” said York.
When administrators, who may not be in our classrooms on a daily basis, see on paper that agriculture students are more successful it warrants the need for agricultural education.
College and career readiness is a huge part of education right now in Kentucky. York’s program was ranked in the top 10 statewide agriculture programs for college and career readiness. In 2015, his program administered 69 Kentucky Occupational Skill Standards Assessments (KOSSA) to juniors and seniors. York’s students scored exceptionally well on their tests, placing them higher than the state average in college and career readiness. The same success was repeated in 2016, with 33 students passing the KOSSA exam.
“Our yearly success on the state assessment and the transparency of how we conduct our department, along with our honesty has developed a successful line of communication between the agriculture department, our principal, and our assessment coordinator,” said York.
York’s program uses both Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education and Murray State University’s Racer Academy curriculum to align their content with state and national standards; yet another way to validate the program to the school and community. Although agriculture is not a core subject area, the agriculture curriculum and classroom instruction at Caldwell County provides students with hands-on application of the core content areas in which they are tested.
“In Kentucky, the Professional Growth Evaluation System includes teacher readiness and lesson planning, which involves teachers uploading lesson plans that tie together core content and national agriculture standards,” added York. “This process allows administrators to easily notice the connection of agricultural content to core content subject areas through real-world experiences and skill development.”
Apply it to your program
For agriculture teachers looking to use standardized test scores to promote their programs, York says to stress the importance of career readiness and how agricultural standards reflect career standards. Make sure students and parents are aware of how they can benefit from doing well on standardized tests (i.e. college credits, dual credit courses, etc.). Knowing that everyone can benefit from the test will make the entire process a more worthwhile experience.
York was selected as the 2016 NAAE Outstanding Agricultural Education Teacher for Region IV. The NAAE Outstanding Agricultural Education Teacher award program recognizes NAAE members who are at the pinnacle of their profession—those who are conducting the highest quality agricultural education programs. The award recognizes leadership in civic, community, agriculture/agribusiness and professional activities. Outstanding agricultural educators are innovators and catalysts for student success in agricultural education. For more information about this award, and to see other regional award winners, follow this link.
The Outstanding Agricultural Education Teacher Award is sponsored by Caterpillar, Inc. and Tractor Supply Company as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.
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