The statistics generated by the annual Kentucky Core Content Test (KCCT) on each school can be a little dense, however AYP ultimately comes down to how many students are ranked as proficient or above in reading and math, but there is an added dimension to the scoring. Students are also scored in subgroups based on ethnicity (white, black, Hispanic and Asian), socioeconomic category based on whether they receive free or reduced price meals and whether or not they have a learning disability. Miss one milestone in one subject in one subgroup and a school fails to make AYP.
As usual, the very good news is coming from the county’s elementary schools, with McKinney and Hustonville Elementary schools leading the way. McKinney saw a 13 percent increase in the number of students ranked proficient or above in science, and a 22 percent jump in math. In Hustonville there was a 31 percent jump in the proficient and distinguished students in writing.
Hart attributes the successes enjoyed by the elementary schools to building-level leadership where teachers and administrators meet regularly to discuss each child’s progress and ensure that if a student begins falling behind in an area there is immediate corrective action. “The elementary schools use Study Island that allows a student to get remedial help in a specific area,” Hart said. She also said that the Predictive Assessment Series (PAS) Test is more effective in grades three through eight than for high schoolers.
Throughout the school year, students take the PAS test three times and teachers are able to quickly assess how students are progressing toward success on the annual KCCT and remediate those students who aren’t getting it.
Many of those tools used in elementary education just don’t work in high school, and it partially explains LCHS missing 7 out of 13 goals. Hart attributed the disconnect to the complexity of scheduling high school students. Because of scheduling, a student could have not taken a math class for an entire academic year before sitting for the annual KCCT. One remedy to that problem may come in the 2011-2012 school year when it has been proposed to administer standardized tests at the end of a course rather than on an arbitrary day.
Hart said many districts see the same disconnect between high performance in elementary and middle school and dismal performance in high school because of the testing disconnect, “It sets up high schools to be low performers. That being said, I look at the high school scores and it’s discouraging.”
In addition to end-of-course testing being implemented, the future of NCLB might also include longitudinal assessment of students that tracks individual student performance over their entire education.
Hart said that the ability to track individual student achievement will help in the assessment of teacher, principal and district performance.