Officials at Whitley County’s three public school districts are generally pleased with progress on educational improvement, though the picture is a little murkier than in past years with big changes on the horizon in the accountability model for Kentucky schools.
Gone are the overall index scores that provided rankings for entire school districts. Plans are to replace the old system with an “educational dashboard” that promises to give a more complete picture of how school districts are performing.
“For us, internally here at Williamsburg, there is enough raw data there that we can continue planning and implementing solid policies and direction in order to improve educational outcomes,” said Loren Connell, Assistant Superintendent and Director of Instruction at the Williamsburg Independent School District.
Connell said he was pleased with progress made at the district’s elementary school and high school, but wasn’t as happy with progress at the middle school.
“We made positive grounds at all schools, it just wasn’t as much at the middle school,” Connell said.
Connell pointed out that, like most districts, Williamsburg is focusing on novice reduction. There was a 17 percent decrease in novice English students at the district’s high school. That decrease, however, was just 1.5 percent at the middle school.
Williamsburg students did score the second highest ACT score since the district has been tracking results, a 19 average overall. The state average is 19.8.
Another area where Williamsburg is focusing attention is on ensuring students meet= college and career readiness goals when they graduate. The district offers three career majors now: Microsoft Office, Dietetics and Biomedical Science.
According to the latest state data, the number of Williamsburg students who are college and career ready increased from 50.9 percent a year ago to 60 percent this year.
At the Whitley County School System, Deputy Superintendent Paula Trickett said officials are satisfied with this year’s round of scores.
“We are extremely gratified to remain one of the top performing districts in the state. In the weeks ahead, we will dig into the data at each school and review and revise both school level and district improvement plans so that we will continue our tradition of making great things happen for the students of Whitley County,” she said.
She said “achievement scores” for individual schools are the most straightforward way to tell the tale. They ranged from a high 89.2 at Whitley North Elementary, 84.5 at Whitley East Elementary, and 84.8 at Whitley County Middle School, to Whitley County High School at 63.8. Other schools in the district scored well also: Whitley Central Intermediate School 81.6, Oak Grove Elementary 79.1 and Pleasant View at 78.5.
“We are very pleased with how our elementary schools and middle school continue to perform. While we always seek to identify areas in need of improvement and adjust our curriculum and instructional practices accordingly, it is encouraging to see that our students score at levels indicative of the best schools in the state,” she said. “Our teachers and our district instructional staff remain committed to ensuring that our classrooms are places where all children have the opportunities necessary to produce productive, high functioning 21st Century citizens, regardless of any changes to the state accountability system.”
The average ACT score at Whitley County High School was 18.9, and 51.9 percent of the students graduating were considered college or career ready.
Corbin Independent School District continued a trend of high performance. Students in grades 3-8 averaged 29.8 percent better than state averages for proficiency or better in various subjects. The average was 25.75 percent high at the high school. Across the district, the average was 28 percent higher than the state score.
Corbin High School had its highest composite ACT score ever, going from 21.3 a year ago to 21.7 this time around.
Corbin Middle school scored 94 points in achievement ranking it sixth among state middle schools. Corbin Intermediate School had an achievement score of 81.9 and continued reduction of novice students.
“Overall, we were pleased with the way things are trending,” Cox said. “For us, the goal right now is to continue novice reduction in targeted areas to make sure all of our students are getting a quality education.”