Northern Elementary leads the way with four stars of a five-star rating system, and 11 of Scott County’s 12 schools showed improvement or stayed the same in proficiency, according to assessments released by the state today.
Kentucky implemented a new star rating system this year to reflect how schools are doing, with one star being the lowest and five being the highest. District-wide, elementary, middle and high school levels each received three stars.
“They don’t give a star rating for the whole district, but break it down into elementary, middle and high school levels,” said Robin Taylor, district assessment coordinator. “In proficiency (reading and math component), all three levels are above the state average.”
In looking at how students improved from last year, Scott County elementary schools showed tremendous growth. District-wide, Scott County was 12th in the state in growth out of 174 districts. Individually, Garth Elementary really shone, posting a 76.9 growth score which was 14th out of 698 elementary schools.
Students took the same test, but the calculation this year was different to award the star ratings, Taylor said.
Schools were scored on proficiency (reading and math), separate academic scores (science, social studies and writing) and growth, or how much each student improved scores this year compared to last year in reading and math. High school scores are based on junior ACT scores, transition readiness and graduation rates.
Scott County middle and high school scores in separate academic was above the state average, while elementary schools were nearly right at the state average. Scott County High School’s transition readiness was below the state average but graduation rate was above the state average.
The growth scores is where Taylor sees particular progress. Scott County elementary schools showed high growth.
“We had high growth which is awesome. They get point levels if they move from novice to novice high, etc.,” she said. “So we had high growth and the state had medium growth which shows our kids are growing at a higher rate than many of the kids in the state.
“That’s what you want to see. We put in a lot of effort, especially in proficiency and made some progress. We put effort in reading and math and I think our growth shows that. Definitely our work paid off.”
Another positive was that no schools in Scott County are targeted for improvement, Taylor said.
“Last year we had several targeted schools for improvement, and this year we have none. And we don’t have any federal classifications, which I think is a great celebration too,” Taylor said. She defined those results that schools fall in CSI category — comprehensive schools for improvement, or the bottom 5% in the state. If a school has a subgroup that falls where those CSI schools are, such as Hispanic students, that school would be targeted for improvement. This year, while there are gaps, Taylor said none of those gaps fall into the bottom 5%.
“We still have some gaps, and we are working on those, but we made enough progress that they got out of being a school targeted for improvement,” she said.
Individually, all elementary schools received three stars, except for Northern Elementary which got four stars. At the middle school level, Royal Spring and Scott County Middle were three star schools, and Georgetown Middle received two stars. Being the only high school last year, Scott County High had three stars.
“The one way to lose a star is to have a significant gap in a subgroup,” Taylor said. “Scott County Middle would have been a four-star school, but had a significant gap in students with disabilities, so they lost a star.”
Looking at categories, the district elementary schools improved from last year in proficiency scores, and the high school improved in transition readiness and graduation.
Anne Mason, Eastern, Garth, Northern, Southern and Stamping Ground elementaries and GMS improved in proficiency scores, and Garth, Northern and Southern all improved in separate academic scores.
High school students are not measured in growth as the data comes from the ACT that juniors take.
“I am proud of the hard work of our students and the progress made by our schools,” said Superintendent Dr. Kevin Hub. “The state assessment is a valuable tool, one among many used by Scott County Schools to guide instruction as we work to meet the individual learning needs of our students.”
The growth numbers is what Taylor was proud to see.
“We put a lot of emphasis on reading and math at the elementary and middle schools. We want to make sure they are reading before they get to middle school, and I think we saw our efforts pay off. We reduced our novice pretty significantly and increased our proficiency and distinguished.”
She and other district and school leaders will be pouring over the data to see where they go from here.
“Initially it gives us a quick snapshot of where we are compared to the state and other districts. Schools will dig into student-by-student data,” Taylor said. “They may look at each grade level and see where there are pockets of success they can replicate, and other areas they need to improve and develop their school improvement plans.
“This gives them a baseline and then go into student-by-student data, and other data from the whole year.”
The public also gets to look at the data today. People can look up star ratings by school or district, and then look at accountability data as well, including seeing how the district and individual schools compare across the state.
“I think people will find the school data visually appealing and you can see where you are,” Taylor said. “I don’t want them to put emphasis on the star rating because I think we do a lot of things better than three stars. We look at all the data, family needs, emotional needs and support we provide them. I don’t know that our stars reflect that because it is just one week. I think we do a good job of having consistent expectations and support for teachers. Continuous improvement goes on in every school, and not sure it picks up the growth as well.
“But it will give them a quick look and the demographics of the district.”
She said parents should receive individual student report cards later in October.
Steve McClain can be reached at email@example.com.