Some Clark County schools had very good showings on the new “Unbridled Learning” assessment system test results released Nov. 2, while some others didn’t fare quite as well.
The district had three schools classified as distinguished and designated as schools of distinction — the highest designation — led by Pilot View Elementary which ranked No. 3 in the state out of 733 elementary schools. Trapp Elementary ranked No. 16 in the state, while Providence ranked No. 21.
Hannah McClure Elementary School also fared well earning proficient status — the second of the three designations — and ranked No. 89 overall.
On the other side, Central, Fannie Bush, Shearer and Strode Station elementary schools, and Conkwright and Clark Middle schools were classified as “Needs Improvement” schools, while George Rogers Clark High School was classified as a focus school, which is the lowest category.
Focus schools, as established by the Kentucky Department of Education, are those with non-duplicated gap groups — those in individual student groups such as ethnic groups, students with disabilities, free or reduced lunch students — scoring in the bottom 10 percent of similar gap group scores, schools with an individual subgroups with scores below the state average for all students.
The district as a whole was in the “Needs Improvement” category, 1.5 points shy of a proficient rating.
Pilot View and Trapp Principal Steven Jenkins said the test scores were exciting for everyone in the two communities as well as people in the schools.
“I think this shows the commitment the teachers make every day and the hard work the students have put in as well. This truly is a team effort from the teachers and students to the parents and the members of the community. They all had a hand in this,” Jenkins said. “The staffs at both schools dug into the data on the new assessments and said this is what they need and what we need to do to get the students where they need to be and they did it. We’re all excited because this shows it is working.”
Providence Principal Mark Rose said everyone at the school was very excited about thier test results.
“We’re proud to be in the top 25. Everyone worked really hard and our parents and students deserve the credit for this as well as the staff,” Rose said. “We’re excited with this being the first year of the new tests but we still have some work to do, but having one year under our belt we know now what to expect and we want to go out and do even better next year.”
Pilot View was the smallest school of the top 10 highest-performing schools in the state.
This is the first year for the new assessment system and Kentucky Department of Education officials warned before the results were released that districts across the state would probably see a drop of about 25-30 percent in the scores from those of last year’s assessments under the old system. Because of the complexity of the new system, 69 percent of schools would automatically fall into the “Needs Improvement” category. State officials also cautioned parents not to try to compare this year’s results with last year’s because it is the first year of the new system.
Clark County Schools Superintendent Elaine Farris said it was exciting to see the three elementary schools perform so well on the assessments, but there was also some concern over some of the other schools’ results.
“This is a new baseline for us and we had a lot of celebrations. Pilot View, Trapp and Providence faculty, staff and students should be very proud of what they accomplished and Hannah McClure really worked hard and brought their score up, which is exciting,” Farris said. “But we also have room for improvement.”
In individual categories where the district fared well, scores show that Trapp, Pilot View and Providence had 60 percent or more students proficient or distinguished in reading, while Pilot View and Trapp had zero percent novice students in reading.
As a district, elementary schools had 51.9 percent of students score proficient or distinguished in reading, above the state average of 48 percent.
In math, the three schools also had more than 60 percent of their students score proficient or distinguished in math, while the district as a whole had 50.1 percent proficient or distinguished students in math, also above the state average of 40.6 percent.
Eight schools had more than 60 percent of their students score proficient or distinguished in science, Conkwright and Clark Middle, Fannie Bush, Hannah McClure, Strode Station, Pilot View, Trapp and Providence elementaries. Providence had 100 percent proficient or distinguished students for the second year in a row.
District wide, 71 percent of elementary school students scores proficient or distinguished in math, compared to the state average of 68.8 percent. Middle schools scores show 63.2 percent of Clark students scored proficient or distinguished in math, compared to a 61.8 state average.
All schools but Fannie Bush had more than 50 percent of their students demonstrate growth in reading and math.
In social studies, six schools, Pilot View, Trapp, Providence, Central, Hannah McClure and Conkwright had 60 percent or more distinguished or proficient students. District wide, 64 percent of all elementary schools students earned the distinction, compared to the state average of 59.8 percent. District middle schools recorded 56.7 percent proficient or distinguished students.
There were also areas where schools did not perform as well.
Six schools, Central, Fannie Bush, Shearer, Strode Station, Clark Middle and Conkwright, had 20 percent or more of their students scoring novice in reading, while Central, Fannie Bush, Shearer and GRC had 20 percent or more of students scoring novice in math.
GRC also had 28 percent or more students scoring novice in English II, Algebra II, biology and U.S. history on the end of semester assessments.
Farris said district officials have already started looking for ways of improving student performance.
“Obviously we have some areas of major concern for us and we’ve already begun conversations with our principals. We’ve got to make sure our students are mastering the content and our major focus has to be on addressing every student one-on-one,” Farris said. “Then at the district level we've got to decide how we are going to best organize and spend our time to insure that our schools are successful. And we got to step back and look at what we are doing. WE've got to evaluate if what we are doing is working. In some of these areas it's not working and we can't continue doing what we've been doing because it's not working.”
Farris said that instead of looking outside the district to see what schools are doing to be successful, the district needs to take a look at the schools that did perform well.
“Why would we want to go out of our district when we have three of the highest performing schools in the state right here in our district. Why would we go somewhere else?” Farris said. “We need to be taking teachers out there to some of these schools and see what those teachers are doing. That's what we've got to do. Good teaching is good teaching anywhere, so we’ve got to take the things that are obviously working for them and use it elsewhere in the district.”
“Our teachers are working very hard and we will continue to work together to improve student achievement. The board team is very focused on student achievement and will start hearing the schools student achievement reports next week. They always ask the principals ‘what do you need from the board to help you improve student achievement?’ and I’ve told the principals to be very candid and honest with the board so we can allocate the resources to them.”
Contact Bob Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.