HUGHESVILLE - This past year saw a rise in NOCTI exam scores for graduating seniors at Lycoming Career and Technology Center, having more than 80 percent of its students be rated as advanced in program skills.
Almost the entire graduating class passed the exam that tests the knowledge and skills the students have learned in their individual programs.
"The kids want to be here and the districts have been very supportive," said Eric Butler, executive director of the school.
Students in the automotive program at Lycoming Career and Technology Center work on various parts of cars that the school has for their learning. The school has some donated and also allows advanced students work on community members’ vehicles.
High school students from five area districts - East Lycoming, Montgomery, Loyalsock Township, Muncy and Warrior Run - can attend the school for three years in order to get a head start on either a career or schooling.
"Everything's designed to take three years to explain," Butler said. "We don't train kids for jobs that take a week of training."
Along with the overall high test scores - some of the highest in recent years at the school - one student scored perfectly on both aspects of the assessment. Chelsea Smith, a senior at Montoursville Area High School, scored a perfect score on the early childhood program assessment.
"She scored a straight 100, which is a first here," Butler said.
"I was shocked," Smith said. "I thought it was a mistake."
The exam is broken up into two different parts - a written and hands-on test. Butler said it's not rare for students to succeed on the hands-on test, but they usually have problems with the written aspect.
The problem with the written section Butler said is that since NOCTI is a national assessment, terms are different in areas of the country. He said students know the answer but the test may use a different term that they're not familiar with.
But students do very well on the hands-on portion of the test because doing something is the same no matter where you are.
"Brakes in Pennsylvania on a car are no different than brakes in a car in California," Butler said.
Another added bonus of the test is that local industry professionals judge the students on the hands-on aspect, which allows the students to interact with those experienced in the field.
"The nice thing is you're actually bringing in local industry every year," Butler said.
Butler also noted that students don't just go right into the work force after graduating from the school but usually further their education in the field.
Smith said she plans to go to Mansfield University next year for psychology. She said she still would like to do something with children - perhaps become a school guidance counselor.
Smith said she first thought about attending the school when her older brother graduated from it.
"I said, 'I like kids. Why don't I do that?' " she said.
Now as she's getting ready to graduate, Smith has put her best foot forward with a perfect score on the NOCTI exam.
Kerri Kime, Smith's instructor, said it's because of Smith's hard work that she earned a perfect score.
"She set the goals and she's going for it," Kime said.
The high scores tells Butler that the school and its curriculum is working. He said students take the work at Lyco CTC more seriously because they chose to go there.
"It's really a nice place to be," he said.