Even as Kentucky is laying the preliminary groundwork to transition to state’s new accountability system over the next two years, school districts across the Commonwealth are already seeing changes in the 2016-2017 accountability scores for KPREP or Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress. One of these changes concerns ranking of school districts and schools and their respective overall scores. No longer will schools and districts be ranked by overall scores or by using terms as Proficient, Proficient and Progressing, or Distinguished, allowing for less competition between schools and school districts and putting more focus on the achievement of the students. Even though there have been some subtle changes, the 2016-2017 KPREP scores demonstrate that many schools in the Rowan County School District are making gains or are holding steady.
Rather than focusing on a ranking of a school or a district, five areas are the focus of the 2016-2017 KPREP accountability scores. These focus areas are Achievement, Gap, Growth, College/Career Readiness, and Graduation Rate. Elementary and middle schools are scored in the areas of Achievement, Gap and Growth while high schools are scored in four areas – Achievement, Gap, College/Career Readiness and Graduation Rate.
Last spring, Rowan County Schools’ students along with over 350,000 students across the Commonwealth completed KPREP tests that covered six different content areas: Reading, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Writing, and Language Mechanics. Students in grades 3-8 were assessed in Reading, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Writing, and Language Mechanics. (NOTE: The scores for the Science assessment tool administered in grades 3-8 were not part of this year’s accountability scores.)
At the high school level, students are tested through End-of-Course assessments in English II, Algebra II, Biology, and U.S. History. The scores from the annual ACT exam taken by all Kentucky high school juniors also make up part of the accountability scores at the high school. (NOTE: Even though students at the elementary, middle and high school levels were tested in Science, only the scores for the high school students who had taken the Biology End-of-Course exam were part of the high school’s accountability scores.)
Points in Achievement measure how well a student performs on the areas tested using KPREP, Kentucky’s assessment tool. Achievement points are awarded in each of the tested areas. For each percent of students scoring at the distinguished or proficient level the school/district earns one point. A half-point is awarded for each percent of students scoring at the apprentice level. No points are awarded for novice students.
Kentucky’s goal is 100 percent proficiency for all students. The distance from that goal or gap is measured by creating a student Gap Group — an overall count of student groups that have historically had achievement gaps. Student groups combined include ethnicity/race (African American, Hispanic, Native American), Special Education, Poverty (free/reduced-price meals) and Limited English Proficiency that score at proficient or higher. To calculate the combined student Gap Group, non-duplicated counts of students who score proficient or higher and are in the student groups would be added together. This will yield a single gap number of proficient or higher students in the Student Gap Group, with no student being counted more than one time.
The Growth category uses a Student Growth Percentile, comparing an individual student’s score to the student’s academic peers. It recognizes schools and districts for the percentage of students showing typical or higher levels of growth. The scale for growth is determined at equal intervals, with typical growth beginning at the 40th percentile. For elementary and middle schools, growth is based on annual reading and mathematics tests in grades 3-8. (In the past, growth at the high school level was shown using scores from the ACT PLAN test (10th grade) and the ACT (11th grade.) Since high schools are no longer administering the ACT PLAN test at the 10th grade, growth points are not part of a high school’s KPREP scores.
The Readiness score is a reflection of the percentage of students who have met the benchmarks for either College Readiness or Career Readiness. To be college ready, a student is required to the benchmarks in Reading, English, and Mathematics as set by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. The benchmarks are taken from scores from the ACT, KYOTE (Kentucky Online Testing) or the Transition Attainment Record.
To be deemed career ready, a student that is in a career pathway is required both career-ready academic and career-ready technical benchmarks. Career-ready academic benchmarks are set by the scores from ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) or ACT WorkKeys tests. Career-ready technical benchmarks are set by the scores from KOSSA (Kentucky Occupational Skills Standards Assessment) or other industry certifications.
The Four-Year Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate for each high school and district, which is reported annually, is defined as the number of students who graduate in four years with a regular high school diploma, adjusting for those students who, over the same four-year period, have transferred in or out, emigrated, and passed away.
Superintendent Marvin Moore remarked, “The KPREP report shows us both our strengths and our weaknesses. We are proud of what our teachers have accomplished and applaud the gains made by each school. However, our faculty and staff across the district will also be using this report to help determine areas of concern. The KPREP report gives us the direction that we need to take in order to assist our teachers in improving classroom teaching strategies and giving our students the help they require to gain the skills they need to become college and/or career ready.”
The KPREP scores at McBrayer Elementary School showed substantial increases in the each of the five tested areas. The most dramatic increase in their achievement scores was in the area of Social Studies, but they also showed improvements On-Demand Writing, Language Mechanics, Mathematics, and Reading. Their overall Achievement score moved from 62.4 in the 2015-2016 accountability year to 71.5 in the 2016-2017 accountability year. In the scores for the Non-Duplicated Gap Groups, McBrayer Elementary School showed an increase of almost 40 percentage points.
Rhonda Banks, principal of McBrayer Elementary School, spoke of the accomplishments made by the students and staff at her school. “Teachers and instructional assistants worked as a team to teach and re-teach students in small groups on an ongoing basis to help students master grade level standards. Students individually worked to set goals two to three times a year with teachers and/or administrators as they reflected on their assessment data. Small groups and goal setting has helped support improvements in all content areas at MES. I am very proud of the students and staff for their laser-like focus on ensuring students’ needs are met.”
Students who are identified as being in one of the Non-Duplicated Gap Groups can often face challenges to learning. Making sure that these students have the tools and skills to overcome these challenges is an important element of educating the whole student. At Clearfield Elementary, faculty, staff and administration worked together as a team to ensure that these challenges were reduced, thereby ensuring that every student was gaining the skills to reach his or her potential.
“Closing the achievement gap requires a focus on the whole child, and not just on academics. Once we address the physical and emotional needs of our students, through our District’s free breakfast and lunch program, ensuring that no child goes hungry, our Family Resource Center, providing assistance for families in need, and our compassionate and highly competent counselor from Pathways, who is invaluable for meeting the psychological needs of our most at-risk students, we can begin to focus on their academic success,” said Misty Litton, principal of Clearfield Elementary School. “Every child is unique, and the CES faculty and staff work hard to treat each child as an individual. From our Novice Reduction team that is guiding our school’s efforts to boost student performance to our teachers meeting in weekly PLCs or Professional Learning Communities to focus on student data and plan timely interventions, from focusing our Extended School Services funding for both in-school and after-school tutoring to teaming up with parents in a variety of settings and meetings to address student challenges, our students are reaping the benefits of teacher-parent-community relationships. When all the adults in a child’s life work together for the well-being of a child, the whole community grows stronger.”
Reducing the number of students scoring at the Novice level and helping them aim toward proficiency has been a primary focus throughout the District. Allison Mathews, who serves as the district’s assessment coordinator, stated, “Our focus as a District over the past several years has been Novice Reduction. Teachers at all our schools are working as a team to ensure that all students, from kindergarten through high school, have the tools they need to become college/career ready.”
Rodburn Elementary School saw their Novice scores in Mathematics reduce from 21.7% (2015-2016) to 18% in 2016-2017. The Novice scores in Social Studies went from 12% in 2015-2016 to just over 8% in 2016-2017. By far, though, the largest drop in Novice scores was in Language Mechanics, going from 24% (2015-2016) to 19% (2016-2017.)
RES students scoring at the Proficient level in Mathematics increased from 31.5% in 2015-2016 to 38% in 2016-2017. The school also saw an increase in the percentage of students scoring at the Proficient level in On-Demand, rising from 37% (2015-2016) to 46% (2016-2017.)
“The students of Rodburn Elementary School continue to grow in achievement through the collective efforts of all stakeholders which include students, parents, teachers, and the community,” said RES principal Andrea Murray. “The support of our district leadership has contributed to students’ success at all levels by providing necessary resources.”
Tilden Hogge Elementary School saw the percentage of students scoring at the Proficient level in Social Studies increase from 36% (2015-2016) to 41.5% in 2016-2017. The percentage of students scoring at the Novice level was reduced to just over 7%.
Brandy Breeze, principal of Tilden Hogge, stated, “We are very proud of the increase in our students’ Proficient level Social Studies scores as well as the reduction in the percentage of students scoring at the Novice level. Students work hard with their teachers to learn about all elements of Social Studies, including government, economics, civics, geography, as well as Kentucky, American and world history. Teachers in every content area and all grade levels are working together to align standards and help their students learn to access resources.”
Rowan County Middle School made considerable gains in the percentage of students scoring at the Distinguished level in Reading, Social Studies, On-Demand Writing, and Language Mechanics. In the On-Demand Writing category, there was a jump from 6.5% scoring at the Distinguished level in 2015-2016 to 23.4% scoring Distinguished in 2016-2017. In Social Studies, the percentage of students scoring at the Novice level dropped to 5.8% while the percentage of students scoring at the Distinguished level rose to 27.8%. In Mathematics, there was an increase in the percentage of students scoring at the Proficient level, rising from 41.6% to 46%. The Mathematics Proficient/Distinguished Performance Percentages show Rowan County Middle School again outpacing the state level by over 10 percentage points.
RCMS Principal Jay Padula and Assistant Principal Joseph Harris both expressed their pride in their students and staff for this year’s KPREP results. Jay Padula stated, “At RCMS, our staff believes in providing a whole-child education for all students. Last year, we analyzed our KPREP scores and focused on our areas of need. Integrating a school-wide continuous classroom improvement process called Plan/Do/Study/Act has allowed our teachers to provide instruction based on each student’s strengths and weaknesses. Our instructional assistants have been trained on co-teaching models and help to provide small group and one-to-one instruction.”
Assistant Principal Joe Harris added, “The RCMS leadership along with the Social Studies teachers provide opportunities for the students to not just learn facts and terminology in their classes, but also to support those facts in utilizing the knowledge obtained from reading and interpreting primary and secondary sources and learning to both critically examine varying points of view as well as provide evidence.”
Padula then added, “Both Joe and I were pleased to see that the Proficient/Distinguished Performance Percentage in Mathematics at RCMS has again exceeded the state percentage. We are proud of the continued progress we are making in Math as we provide higher level math courses while at the same time meeting all students at their instructional level.”
Students at Rowan County Senior High School are assessed using both the ACT, administered to all high school juniors, and through End-of-Course exams in English II, Algebra II, Biology and U.S. History. At the high school level, points for Career and College Readiness as well as Graduation Rate make up part of a high school’s accountability scores. Just as at the elementary and middle school levels, it is important to see a reduction in the number of students scoring at the Novice level. In Mathematics, the percentage of students scoring Novice dropped from 18.2% (2015-2016) to 17% (2016-2017) while the percentage of students scoring at the Novice level in Social Studies went from 24% in 2015-2016 to 18.5% in 2016-2017. Rowan County Senior High School also saw an increase in the percentage of students scoring at the Proficient level in Social Studies. This percentage rose from 46.9 (2015-2016) to 55% (2016-2017.)
The 2017 Four-Year Cohort Graduation Rate for Rowan County Senior High School, which looks at the percentage of students who, over a four-year period from their freshman through senior years, successfully obtain a regular high school diploma, was 98.7%. This percentage once again outpaced the state percentage of 88.6%.
RCSHS Principal Dr. Ray Ginter remarked, “The focus at RCSHS continues to be on student achievement with the end goal of every student graduating college and career ready. Daily our teachers progress monitor student learning to check for understanding of the content. Addressing individual student needs, on the spot, is best practice. Focusing on reducing the novice, in the classroom setting, has become an ethical imperative for all educators. When we compared our 2015-2016 data to the 2016-2017 data, we were pleased to see the reduction in the percentage of students scoring at the Novice level in both Mathematics and Social Studies as well as the increase in the percentage of students scoring at the proficient level in Social Studies. As we move forward, we will continue focusing on reducing the number of novice learners as well as concentrating on using the best instructional practices throughout our school.”
Allison Mathews, District Assessment Coordinator for Rowan County Schools, remarked, “While our accountability data may look different because the state is transitioning to a new accountability system and schools and districts are not being ranked, it does not mean that we’re treating this data any differently. We are still measuring our students according to the college and career ready standards that make up the new curriculum. Across the district, our teachers and their administrators are already using this data to help them assess their students’ strengths and weaknesses and improve the instructional methods that are helping their students master the standards and prepare them to reach their goals.”