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MAKING THE GRADE

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Grant, Williamstown schools show gains

Improvement in assessments were seen in nearly all local schools in the second year of Kentucky’s Unbridled Learning for All Assessment and Accountability System.
The scores, which were applied to test scores and other data for the first time for the 2011-12 school year, were recently released by the Kentucky Department of Education.
The results are derived from information about Achievement (student scores on state tests,) Gap (scores of students who qualify for free/reduced lunch, received special education services, identified as English as a second language or are identified as African-American, Hispanic or Native American,) Growth, (based on measurable changes in individual student performances from year to year,) College/Career Readiness (High school graduates who have successfully met an indicator of readiness for college and/or careers) and Graduation Rate (based on number of students who graduate within four years.)
Public schools and school districts receive overall scores on a scale of 0 to 100 in the new model.
On average, the statewide school overall score was 57.3, up from last year’s 55.2.
For elementary schools, the average was 57.6; for middle schools, 54.9; and for high schools, 59.5.
Based on their percentile rankings, schools and districts are placed in one of three classifications:
• Distinguished – At or above the 90th percentile     
• Proficient – 70th to 89th percentile
•Needs Improvement – Below the 70th percentile
Based on an improvement in overall scores from 2012, 114 more schools and 31 more districts are performing at the highest levels -- classified as either proficient or distinguished.
A total of 641 schools and 63 districts met the requirements to be considered progressing, a new label under the system this year.
Grant County
Every school in the Grant County School District improved its score from last year, a fact that has administrators pleased.
“We were excited to celebrate the fact that all of our schools made significant progress from last year to this year,” said Jennifer Wright, assistant superintendent for Grant County Schools. “Our district improved from an overall score of 53.4 in 2011-12 to 57.6 in 2012-13, moving from the 39th percentile to the 69th percentile. It is nice to have positive validation that the hard work and practices put into place by our administration and teachers are working and showing student success.”
At the elementary level, all four schools were classified as progressing.
Crittenden-Mt. Zion Elementary led the way with a high score of 62.1, an increase from 55.4 from last year.
Sherman Elementary and Dry Ridge Elementary both saw gains as well with scores of 55.4 and 54, respectively.
Mason-Corinth Elementary, which had a 39.8 score in 2011-12, was able to increase the 2012-13 score by nearly 10 points to 49.
Grant County Middle School, which also was labeled as progressing, boosted its score from a 54.2 to 57.3.
The best news may have been at Grant County High School, where a nearly six-point increase to 61.1 gave the school a proficient classification.
As a whole, the district improved 4.2 points to 57.6 and was given a “needs improvement” classification.
Wright said there are several highlights in this year’s results, including GCHS earning proficient status.
“We had two other schools in the district that were so close to being classified as proficient, Crittenden-Mt. Zion missed it by .4 and Grant County Middle School missed proficiency by 1.4 points,” she said. “Another highlight, looking at district trends, would have to include our third grade whose percentage of proficient/distinguished students in math jumped 21.5 points.”
Although the district is not disappointed with this year’s scores, Wright said that does not mean administrators are satisfied either.
“Honestly, each of our schools took a few moments to celebrate the success, but our administration and teachers got right back to working on the goal of all students scoring proficient,” she said. “We use the released data as a tool to help guide us in our work. I am so impressed with the discussions our schools are having based on the data and the knowledge level they have of each individual student and what they need to improve.”
Williamstown Independent
There was plenty to be happy about at Williamstown Independent Schools with the release of this year’s assessment data.
One of the biggest highlights came at Williamstown Elementary, where the scores jumped from 57.1 to 65.3.
“The elementary improved their total score from a 57.1 to a 65.3 going from the 48th percentile to the 80th percentile therefore improving their classification from needs improvement to proficient,” Misty Middleton, assistant superintendent for Williamstown Independent Schools said. “More elementary students were proficient in math and reading this year than last year, which allowed for great growth at the elementary level.”
WES recognized the students’ achievement with a banner outside of the school and a celebration event.
The news was not as good for the Williamstown Jr. High School, which was the only local school to have a decrease in its score.
The junior high school went from a 52.6 in 2011-12 to a 50.1 last year, giving them a needs improvement classification.
“What is important to remember about the results is that schools and districts are testing different students on different subjects each year, so year after year we are not necessarily comparing apples to apples,” Middleton said. “However, due to our size, we are able to look at individual students in an effort to check the academic growth of each student. A disappointment comes when a student doesn’t perform as  predicted. Teachers have become much better about collecting multiple measures of data daily about student performance and use the data to inform them about the next level of instruction. By doing so, they have their finger on the pulse of each student, so it can be disappointing when a student doesn’t perform on a state test as they do in the classroom.”  
Williamstown High School was another bright spot in the district.
“The high school improved their overall score from  a 66.6 to a 68.1 going from the 94th percentile to the 95th percentile and staying classified as a distinguished school and earning an extra classification as a School of Distinction,” Middleton said.
As a district, Williamstown Independent improved its combined score as well, going from a 58.8 to a 61.2.
The score classified the district as proficient.
Middleton said teachers and administrators have been busy looking over the data and are ready to roll up their sleeves and continue to increase the overall academic achievement for all students so all graduate college and career ready.
 “Our staff works very hard to disaggregate data, identify areas of improvement and develop action plans to address those identified areas of need,” Middleton said. “Some strategies for improvement take longer to implement and therefore, positive results are not always seen in the span of one year. Over time, however, we feel our planning for improvement will pay huge dividends. Accomplishments such as those within our district, do not come easily. It takes hard work and dedication of all our stakeholders and as we become more and more familiar with the state’s new accountability model, it’s our belief we can move from being a proficient district to a District of Distinction.”