Eighth graders at Geneseo Middle School recently posted some of the school’s best-ever Explore test scores.

Eighth graders at Geneseo Middle School recently posted some of the school’s best-ever Explore test scores.

“We’re exceptionally proud of our students,” said GMS principal Matt DeBaene. “When assistant principal Tom Ryerson and I first opened the scores and looked at them, we were unbelievably excited.”

Administered by the same company that gives the college-bound ACT test, the Explore exam tests students in English, math, reading and science.

During the 2010 test, which was given to students in mid-March, 86.6 percent of students met the English standards, 71.2 percent met the standards in math, 75.1 percent met in reading and 51.3 percent met in science.

“We’ve only been giving this test for a handful of years. Last year, we had very high scores, and this year we saw big leaps again, particularly in science, which is the most difficult portion of the test,” said DeBaene.

This year’s class of eighth graders improved GMS’s science score by 12 percent, its reading score by 13.1 percent, math by 8.2 percent and English by 1.6 percent.

“The Explore test is very skill based,” explained DeBaene. “For example, the science section isn’t just about identifying a type of rock, it’s more about being able to look at data points and interpret that data.”

“The Explore test is based of college and career readiness standards,”?he said.

Because the tests are administered near the end of a student’s eighth-grade year, the Explore exam serves as a final assessment for middle school teachers and administers.

“We’re able to address issues and improve from one year to another,” said DeBaene. “The high school also uses the scores to help with class placement for freshmen.”

He added, “We hear back from freshmen teachers about the students they receive from us. We want to know the pieces and components the students struggle with so we know the issues we can start addressing.”

DeBaene said despite the eighth graders high scores, literacy would continue to be a strong focus at GMS.

“We know if we can make strong readers, they’ll be stronger in other areas as well,” he said.  “Our great gains in science and reading have a lot to do with our literacy approaches.”

DeBaene said the students scores this year are a credit both to the eighth graders themselves and the teachers at GMS.

“It takes kids doing the work they have to do and taking it seriously and our staff wanting to evolve and do what’s best for the students,” he said. “You don’t make these types of gains at a building unless you have a focused and determined staff.

“Our staff focuses on making sure students are prepared for life. We’re constantly trying to improve for the sake of our students,” DeBaene said.

Information on the test results will be sent home with GMS students, and parents are invited to meet with school counselors if they’d like to discuss a student’s individual results.