With the release of the 2014-2015 accountability scores, the Rowan County School District has maintained its classification as a Proficient and Progressing District and has moved up from the 78th percentile to the 86th percentile.
Unbridled Learning-College/Career for All, which was passed by Kentucky’s legislature in 2009, revolutionized the assessment and accountability system for public schools as well as put in place new academic standards in core subjects. Next-Generation Learners, the first of four components of Unbridled Learning’s accountability model, began in the 2011-2012 school year. Rowan County Schools’ students along with almost 400,000 students across the Commonwealth in grades 3-8 completed tests collectively named the Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP), in five content areas: reading, mathematics, social studies, writing and language mechanics. In addition, high school students complete End-of-Course exams in Algebra II, English II, Biology and U.S. History. These secondary students also complete a writing test and language mechanics test (10th grade) and a writing test (11th grade.) (Due to the state developing science assessments to align with new science standards implemented in the 2014-15 school year, elementary and middle school students were tested in science in 2015 using only a norm-referenced test, but those scores were not included in accountability.)
With Unbridled Learning-College/Career Readiness for All, each school and district is scored on a 0 to 100-point scale and given an annual measurable objective or AMO to meet for the 2014-2015 accountability year. The data in the latest accountability scores show that the Rowan County School District has exceeded its AMO or annual measureable objective and has met its graduation rate goal.
“We can be proud of how our District showed improvement this year, and continues to be a Proficient and Progressing District,” said Superintendent Marvin Moore. “Our faculty and staff across the district are dedicated to helping our students achieve success and move toward college and career readiness. This report demonstrates that dedication.”
Unbridled Learning includes two accountability components: Next-Generation Learners and Program Review. The Unbridled Learning Accountability Model includes student achievement growth measures with emphasis on college and career readiness, high school graduation rates, student achievement in the five content areas, and increased focus on growth and closing achievement gaps. The accountability model holds all schools and districts accountable for improving student performance, giving them three performance classifications: Distinguished, Proficient or Needs Improvement.
Accounting for 23% of a school’s scores, Program Review looks at how well a school has integrated arts and humanities, writing, and practical living/career studies into the school’s curriculum. It is a year-round reflective process to review the arts and humanities that help to improve the quality of teaching.
When schools receive their accountability data for the previous school year, administrators and teachers work together to assess the school’s strengths and needs as well as develop a focus for improvement for both the schools and the district as a whole.
“Our focus as a District over the past year has been Novice Reduction – working to ensure that our students are aiming toward proficiency. As evidenced by this year’s test scores, we are on the right track and are working as a team to ensure that all students, from kindergarten through high school, – our Next-Generation Learners – have the tools they need to become college/career ready,” said Allison Mathews, who serves as the district’s assessment coordinator.
Along with the District being named a Proficient and Progressing District, four schools in the Rowan County School District now have the distinction of being identified as Proficient and Progressing, exceeding their AMO goals. Those schools were Clearfield Elementary, Rodburn Elementary, Rowan County Middle, and Rowan County Senior High School.
Clearfield Elementary School showed the most improvement, exceeding the state proficient scores in both Social Studies and Writing. It was also in these same areas that Clearfield made the most significant gains, moving from 35.1% students scoring Proficient in Social Studies in 2013-2014 to 51% scoring Proficient in the 2014-2015 scores. In the area of Writing, Clearfield went from 40.5% scoring Proficient to 45.1% scoring Proficient in the 2014-2015 scores.
Tamela Buttry, the former principal of Clearfield Elementary School, was obviously proud of the work that faculty, staff, and students had put in over the 2014-2015 school year. “The students of CES take pride in their work and always strive to do their very best. The staff and teachers have high expectations for their students and they do everything they can to help meet all students’ individual needs. Last year, we decided to follow the lead of McBrayer’s teachers by analyzing class data. From each teacher meeting with the school and district administrative team to review test data to making adjustments to schedules and working with students in small groups, our staff continually monitored our students’ progress and adjusted the curriculum. Building those important relationships with students, not making excuses and never giving up became our focus at Clearfield Elementary.”
Misty Litton took over as principal of Clearfield at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, but Mrs. Buttry is confident in the continuing progress at the school. “I am proud to have had the opportunity to be the principal at Clearfield Elementary, but I have no doubt that Misty, the CES faculty and staff and the students will continue to work as a team and show progress in the years to come.”
Rodburn Elementary, a Proficient and Progressing School, exceeded their AMO this year. Significant gains were made in each area tested – reading, mathematics, social studies, writing and language mechanics. The school outpaced the state level Proficient scores in reading, social studies, writing and language mechanics. It also outpaced the state level Distinguished scores in both mathematics and writing.
Andrea Murray, principal at Rodburn Elementary, said of her school’s progress, “We at Rodburn Elementary are elated with our continued success on the K-PREP assessment by being identified as a “Proficient/Progressing School” for the 2014-2015 school year. With a culture of fostering high expectations and positive opportunities for every students by our faculty and staff and the acceptance of a challenging academic environment, our students continue to grow annually. We also have to credit the support that we get from the parents and from the community. Our goal is to give our students the tools they need to showcase their academic strengths.”
Students at Rowan County Senior High School take the standard K-PREP tests in Writing and Language Mechanics. Scores from the End-of-Course tests in English II, Algebra II, Biology, and U.S. History are also reflected in the school’s assessment scores. The high school outpaced both the state Proficient and Distinguished scores in the area of Language Mechanics. In both English II and U.S. History, Proficient scores were higher at the school level than at the state level. Distinguished scores in Biology at the high school outpaced the state Distinguished scores. Rowan County Senior High School also saw gains in College/Career Readiness. Allowed a top weighted score of 20 points, the high school’s weighted score in the area of College/Career Readiness was 16.6 out of a possible 20 points.
“Our teachers and students work hard every day. Through our test scores, we have showcased some of that hard work,” said Denine Sergent, guidance counselor at Rowan County Senior High School. “Being recognized as a Proficient and Progressing School, for the third year, validates our school’s vision of continually improving our instruction, processes and procedures to meet the needs of individual students. In order to do that, our teachers analyze individual student data daily and adjust their instruction/curriculum to make sure no students are left behind. Moving forward with this process, our students will continue to achieve at higher levels.”
Rowan County Middle School also showed gains in almost every content area. The largest gains made at the middle school were in the Distinguished scores in Reading and the Proficient scores in Mathematics. The middle school’s Proficient and Distinguished scores in Reading, Mathematics and Social Studies outpaced the state scores. Writing scores at the Distinguished level saw a significant increase from 2013-2014 to 2014-2015. They also outpaced the state Distinguished scores this year. Rowan County Middle School was, for the second year in a row, named a Proficient and Progressing School and moved up from the 67th percentile last year to the 74th percentile this year.
Reflecting on the test scores for Rowan County Middle School, Principal Jay Padula stated, “In the words of Vince Lombardi – It is time to stand up for and to cheer for the doer, the achiever, one who recognizes a problem and does something about it. We looked at last year’s test data and recognized what we needed to do. Our faculty and staff put their focus on giving students any extra academic assistance they needed to help them move toward their goal of proficiency. Both the teachers and the students worked together as a team and became achievers.”
Both McBrayer Elementary School and Tilden Hogge Elementary School have been classified as Needs Improvement. While both schools did not quite meet their AMO targets, the schools’ administration and faculty members did see some positive areas in this year’s reported scores.
McBrayer Elementary School’s Proficient scores in Mathematics, Social Studies and Writing exceeded the Proficient scores at both the District and State levels in those three areas. In Writing, McBrayer’s Distinguished scores also exceeded the state Distinguished scores. The school saw dramatic increases in their Proficient scores in both Social Studies and Writing from the 2013-2014 school year to the 2014-2015 school year, with each area moving up approximately 20 percentage points.
Tilden Hogge Elementary School’s Proficient scores in Reading and Mathematics saw a slight rise from last year’s scores. Their Proficient scores in Writing rose substantially from last year’s scores and even exceeded this year’s state Proficient level. Their Reading scores exceeded the District’s Distinguished scores and their Mathematics Proficient scores exceeded those of the District.
With the focus on Novice Reduction during the 2014-2015 school year, McBrayer Elementary School saw some of the most dramatic drops in their Novice scores compared to any other school in the District. In Writing, McBrayer’s Novice scores moved from 24.5% in 2013-2014 to only 9.9% in 2014-2015. In Social Studies, 18.6% of McBrayer students who were tested in the 2013-2014 school scored at the Novice level. In the 2014-2015 school year, there were no students – 0% – that scored at the Novice level.
Allison Mathews stated, “We’re not measuring basic skills with this new accountability system; we’re measuring our students according to the college and career ready standards that make up the new curriculum. Across the district, our teachers are working hard to help our students learn and master these standards and prepare them to reach their goals.”
Superintendent Marvin Moore remarked, “While we are obviously proud of the work that our teachers and students have accomplished, we also know that we cannot rest on our laurels. This report shows us where we need to improve, and gives us the direction that we can use to help our teachers to improve classroom teaching strategies, giving our students the help they require to gain the skills they need to become college and career ready. The Rowan County community should be proud of the students and staff of Rowan County Schools.”