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School officials see progress, despite test scores

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When Senate Bill 1 of 2009 eliminated the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS), school districts began working with the Kentucky Depart-ment of Education and Kentucky School Boards Associa-tion to develop a new system of school accountability. The Sept. 27 release of test scores from the spring of 2011 have now established a new baseline that will help schools to more effectively gauge the progress of individual students and determine if they are on track to enter college or a career field by the time they graduate.

KDE released information about schools’ and districts’ status under the No Child Left Behind Act, results of the Kentucky Core Content Test and Iowa Test of Basic Skills, and data related to college and career readiness and achievement gaps.

“Are we making progress? Yes, we are. Is it at the level that we want this year? No, it’s not,” Lisa James, superintendent of Carroll County Schools, said in announcing that the Carroll County School District was among the 88 percent of school districts in Kentucky that did not make adequate yearly progress.

Carroll County High School, Carroll County Middle School, and Cartmell Elementary School met half of their accountability goals and were among the 57 percent of schools that did not meet their federal goals.

Although schools and districts receiving federal Title I funds are still accountable under the No Child Left Behind Act, President Barack Obama announced on Friday, Sept. 23, that states would be able to apply for a waiver from certain NCLB provisions in exchange for adopting more rigorous standards.

“Kentucky’s schools and districts continue to make progress,” Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said in a Sept. 27 news release.  “However, it is apparent that NCLB is broken when 152 school districts fail to meet AYP [adequate yearly progress]. This is a signal that the NCLB system is no longer fair, valid or reliable.”

According to Holliday, Kentucky is among 44 states applying for a waiver.

The new accountability system will identify whether individual students are growing from year to year rather than simply comparing one group of students in a particular grade to a different set of students in the same grade the next year, according to Pam Williams, the district assessment coordinator for the Carroll County district. 

“Although some of our test results suggest that our schoolwide progress is not where we want to be, when we look at data from year to year, our students have grown,” Williams said.

CCHS increased the number of students who are college and/or career ready from 41 percent in 2010 to 44 percent in 2011, placing the high school 96th among 230 high schools in Kentucky.

Also at CCHS, 58.8 percent of last year’s sophomores reached proficiency in reading and 43.6 percent of juniors were proficient or distinguished in mathematics on the Kentucky Core Content Test, a decline in both areas compared to results from 2009-10. However, science scores among juniors increased almost 4 points, with 50.4 percent reaching proficiency.  Also, writing-on-demand scores shot up 9 points to 40.9 percent proficient or distinguished. In social studies, 42 percent of juniors reached proficiency.

CCMS dropped back from the large gains it had made on the 2010 KCCT, but showed progress over 2009 results in all areas except for writing on demand. In reading, 71.8 percent of students reached proficiency, while 64.1 percent scored proficient or distinguished in mathematics.

Last year’s seventh-graders gained nearly seven points in science, with 50.7 percent of students reaching proficiency.  While 56.7 percent of last year’s eighth-graders reached proficiency in social studies, 29.6 percent did the same in writing on demand.

Cartmell excelled at writing on demand, scoring above the state average, with 60 percent of last year’s fourth-graders scoring proficient or distinguished. In reading, 66.9 percent of students reached proficiency, while 64.5 were proficient or distinguished in mathematics. Fourth graders took the science test, with 50.3 percent scoring proficient or distinguished, while 51.7 percent of fifth graders reached proficiency.

“I am very disappointed that we are where we are and the results are what they are, but we need to stay focused because we are doing a lot of things well,” Bill Hogan, assistant superintendent and chief academic officer of Carroll County Schools said. “We can’t lose sight of the vision we’ve had just because of this year’s results. So we just have to … have an unrelenting focus on reading and reading achievement.”

James said that the Carroll County School District is always striving to help all students reach proficiency in all content areas. In the new accountability system the standards are more rigorous, James said, emphasizing the importance of the community, parents and support groups joining forces with the schools to help break down some of the learning barriers that students face.

“We have made continuous progress for eight straight years. Every once in a while there’s going to be a year when you’re not as successful as you want to be,” James said. “But you learn from it and create a sense of urgency of what are we going to differently in leadership, at the school level, and at the district level to improve. We educate individual children. That’s what we do and will continue to do.”  

 

Jeff Fremin is director of public relations for Carroll County Public Schools.