(SPRINGFIELD, Ky.) – Kentucky’s new five-star school accountability system offers parents, community members and other stakeholders a new way to comprehend how schools are performing. The Kentucky Department of Education collaborated with the U.S. Department of Education to align the accountability system with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Using school and student data from the 2018-2019 school year, the new system provides an overall rating for each Kentucky public school ranging from one (lowest) to five (highest) stars.
Star Ratings for Washington County Schools
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At the elementary level, the Washington County School District saw an increase in the percent of students scoring proficient and distinguished from 2017-2018 to 2018-2019 in reading, science, social studies, and writing. The largest growth in proficiency at the elementary level occurred in writing, which increased in proficient and distinguished by 14.30% in comparison to the 2017-2018 school year. At the middle-grade levels, the district improved proficiency rates in math and science. The percent of middle school students scoring proficient and distinguished improved in science by 14.70% and in math by 4.10 % compared to 2017-2018 data.
“While our data is a single measure of student success, it gives us a reference point and allows us to set goals for all of our shareholders,” says WCES principal Holly Elmore. “As a family, we want Washington County Elementary School to be a place where students feel safe to take risks and challenge themselves academically. Our growth is reflective of the growth mindset that we instill in our students. Our new math and reading curriculum have created excitement, and students are problem solving in different ways than they have previously learned. Even though we are not exactly where we want to be with regard to proficiency, YET, we are well on our way. WCES students will continue to grow as we continue to be Where Commanding Excellence Starts! I am proud of the teachers and the students in our building who work diligently each day to know more than they know the day before.”
Elmore continues, “Our plan for continuous improvement includes implementation of aligned curriculum, an improved system to identify and provide supports to students who struggle meeting the benchmarks, professional learning communities that focus on data-based decision making, and increased partnerships with parents. Instruction is our business and our content is what drives our performance on the state assessment; however, we are also focusing on educating the whole child by engaging them as contributors to our community through passion projects. As we continue to grow, our goal is for our school to infiltrate into the community.”
At the elementary level, North Washington saw a rise in the percent of students scoring proficient and distinguished in math, science, social studies, and writing. The percentage of proficient and distinguished student scores in writing grew by 22.3. At the middle school level, the percent of students scoring proficient and distinguished increased in math by 17.5% and science 13.10%.
“North Washington students, teachers, and families should be very proud of the student growth and academic achievement reflected in our KPREP data this year,” says Amanda Mattingly, principal at NWES/NWMS. “We have such hard-working students—not just during testing week, but every day of the school year. We have committed families who support us and hold both their student and the school to high expectations. We also have highly skilled, passionate teachers and support staff who come ready each and every day to help every student progress in their learning. That’s what it takes—all of us working together.”
Mattingly explains, “The 2018-2019 KPREP test data reflects significant proficiency gains in both reading and math for both our elementary and middle school grades at North Washington, with our middle school math being a particular point of celebration. We also saw great gains in science in both the elementary and middle grades, as well as social studies and writing at the elementary level. We are excited to continue working to refine our instructional programming at all grade levels and contents, to continue to wrap supports around students who are struggling to master grade level standards, and to continue to build a culture where education is valued and where individual student growth is celebrated. In all this, we must always remember that our children are so much more than a test score. We must remind them of that, too. There are so many gifts and talents that a child possesses that are not reflected in a single test score. It is our goal for every student to know they are valued, celebrated, and loved for the many gifts they share with us each day.”
According to Principal Ty Howard, “WCMS staff has reviewed the accountability scores for KPREP along with MAP testing scores and unit assessments in the content areas, and has begun the process of planning to improve student achievement in all areas. The staff believes that no matter how well our students achieve, they can always do better. That attitude has driven our school to succeed and we want to continue to recognize and reward great effort and the idea that everyone can grow their achievement, no matter how low or high they perform. On the KREP test from May of 2019, our Proficiency Indicator (reading and math) remains at 77.6. The Separate Academic Indicator (science, social studies, and writing) is rated as medium at 65.1, with science improving from the previous year and social studies and writing down slightly. Growth is measured differently from previous years, but we are rated at medium at 51.1 . We have already initiated a monthly monitoring plan for academics, as well as our culture, for which we place great importance as a prime contributor to the success of our school.”
The percentage of students transition-ready at Washington County High School increased by 11.8 in 2018-2019 in comparison to 2017-2018 data. The four-year cohort and five-year cohort graduation rate average at WCHS’s graduation rate was 99.1%.
WCHS principal Malissa Hutchins commented on the school’s focus in relation to its scores. “With a rating of two stars, we know what areas we need to improve,” she said. “Our graduation rate has been one of the highest in the state, and we are proud of that, as we do not give up on any child. We had an increase in our transition ready indicator from last year and will continue to work on increasing that this year. One area of focus will be our proficiency indicator, which was taken from the ACT reading and math portions alone last year. We are focusing on instructional practices within our classrooms to address student needs in all content areas. Teachers are working to strengthen our co-facilitation model in our collaborative classes in essential content areas. We are also incorporating and embedding some very specific ACT strategies within our instruction that should help students be more successful on this measure of achievement. We are focused on the improvement of instruction and learning. This focus will lead to future progress on a variety of assessments and measures of achievement.”
WCSD Chief Academic Officer Cherry Boyles stated, “Although there have been significant changes in the state’s standards, assessment, and accountability measures, we have confidence that Kentucky’s new system places emphasis on the academic performance of all students. The standards are rigorous; the assessment practices are complex; and the accountability system incorporates measures that help determine student and program competency. As a district, we have much work to do.”
She continues, “We saw the greatest district proficiency gains in elementary writing and in middle school science. In both cases, teachers worked diligently to align instruction to the standards and to formatively assess students throughout instruction in order to better meet their learning needs. Our district’s strongest overall performance was at the middle school level with originally a 4-star rating. The state system reduced our district rating to 3 stars at the middle school because we had a significant gap in student performance. We recognize the gap and are working to improve learning opportunities in those targeted areas. Our district’s lowest overall performance was at the high school with a 2-star rating. Based on formative and interim measures, we anticipated lower performance at that level and have proactively implemented additional strategies and structures to improve learning opportunities for high school students. We appreciate the work of our students, teachers, and administrators as we continue to refine curriculum and instructional practice. We also appreciate the support of our board of education, community and industry partners who constantly seek opportunities to help students understand and appreciate the value of education in our community and throughout our world.”
Washington County Schools’ new star ratings, along with other important education data, are available online at kyschoolreportcard.com.