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The first results of the Unbridled Learning accountability model, the newest form of statewide school assessment, were unveiled and educators are happy to have the new baseline on which to build.
The superintendents of Elizabethtown Independent Schools and Hardin County Schools found highs and lows in the results, which include many more new sets of data than the previous model, the Kentucky Core Content Testing system.
Schools and districts receive one overall score, on a scale of 1 to 100, that is created using the data from five areas — achievement in various subject areas, student growth in reading and math, college and career readiness among high school students, graduation rates and the proficiency of at-risk student populations. Schools and districts also receive specific data in each of the five categories.
The tests also are based on the new, more rigorous Kentucky Core Academic Standards in English and math, which have been in place for a little more than a year.
Schools in the top 30 percent of scores are labeled “proficient,” while the other 70 percent are labeled “needs improvement.” This is recalculated every year based on how the scores fall with only the top 30 percent of schools ever being considered “proficient.” The top 10 percent of schools earned a “distinguished” mark.
Elizabethtown High School and LaRue County Middle School were rated as distinguished. Six Hardin County Schools were considered proficient — Central Hardin High School, East Hardin Middle School, G.C. Burkhead Elementary School, Heartland Elementary School, John Hardin High School, Lincoln Trail Elementary School and West Point School. LaRue County High School also was rated as proficient.
HCS Superintendent Nannette Johnston said the district wasn’t too concerned about the labels, as they’re dependent on the performance of other schools. HCS officials are more interested in taking baseline numbers and improving.
“I cannot emphasize that enough,” Johnston said.
She said this first release of data allows everyone to move on.
“I kind of feel like everyone’s been holding their breath,” she said.
Elizabethtown High had the highest overall score of area high schools with 65.6 and North Hardin High School had the lowest at 52.9. LaRue County Middle had the highest overall score in the middle grades with 65.7 and North Middle School was at the opposite end of the scale at 52.5. Among 16 area elementary schools, scores ranged from G.C. Burkhead’s 67.4 to Radcliff Elementary School at 50.0. West Point's elementary students scored a 66.2 overall and its middle school tally was 60.7.
The five sets of data allow the districts to be “data-rich,” Johnston said.
“You can look at more of a holistic approach,” she said.
Elizabethtown Superintendent Gary French said he and his staff were pleased with achievement scores in core subject areas, but there’s much more information to consider this year.
“It’s not all about achievement anymore,” French said.
French said information concerning proficiency of at-risk students needs improvement, but he knows it will be addressed.
French said if the district focuses on strong teachers and instruction, the “test scores will take care of themselves,” he said.
Mark Kopp, HCS associate superintendent for instructional services, agreed, saying the scores now allow educators to plan for the future. The tests that students take changed significantly, he said, but preparing students for May’s assessment takes a day-to-day approach.
“It’s really more about preparing students instructionally in a different way,” Kopp said.
Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or firstname.lastname@example.org.