Students in school (generic)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- As reading and math proficiency rates slipped in Jefferson County Public Schools on last year’s standardized tests, results for most school districts in surrounding counties revealed a blend of gains and losses at every school level.

In fact, no school district near JCPS showed across-the-board improvements in reading and math proficiency rates at the elementary, middle and high school levels on assessment results released Tuesday by the Kentucky Department of Education.

Across the state, scores in the key academic areas of reading and math were either relatively steady or dropped. Brigitte Blom Ramsey, executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, said the statewide results indicate a slump in academic performance based on recent assessments.

“Unfortunately, what we’ve seen with the first round of results under the five stars is that our outcomes for students across the board, generally across the state, have not improved, and there are even some areas of decline and increasing gap that should concern Kentuckians across the state,” Ramsey said.

“We’ve made great progress in past decades. This last decade we’ve hit a plateau, and in the last few years, we’ve started to see real declines in student outcomes.”

Only two nearby districts, Hardin County Schools and West Point Independent, matched JCPS by sliding in reading and math proficiency rates in each school category based on 2018-19 testing.

Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis has already recommended state management for West Point Independent, which received one-star ratings at the elementary and middle school levels. The tiny Hardin County district was the only one nearby that received one-star designations as a district as part of its new five-star accountability system based on factors like academic performance and growth, transition readiness and graduation rates.

West Point Elementary School has been identified for comprehensive support and improvement, or CSI, as one of the lowest performing 5% of elementary schools while its middle school program was designated for additional targeted support and improvement, or ATSI.

They were the only two schools placed in those designations from neighboring school districts. JCPS made up the bulk of Kentucky’s lowest performing schools with 35 of the 50 identified throughout the state as CSI.

West Point experienced some of the most significant declines in reading and math proficiency, particularly at the middle school level.

In middle school math, 26.7% of West Point students scored proficient or distinguished on last school year’s assessments, down from 52.6% in the prior year. Reading results show that 35.6% of West Point middle school students demonstrated proficiency after posting a 50% proficiency rate in 2017-18 assessments.

Many of the declines in HCS performance were slight, with the steepest drop coming in high school math proficiency. Results from 2018-19 assessments show 35.4% of HCS high schoolers scored proficient or distinguished in math, down from 41.4% in 2017-18 standardized testing.

The district had only one four-star school, Lincoln Trail Elementary, and two one-star schools, Meadow View Elementary and Woodland Elementary. One three-star school, East Hardin Middle, was docked a star for an achievement gap with its population of disabled students.

Overall, HCS received three-star grades in elementary, middle and high school levels, but officials said there’s room to improve. HCS Superintendent Teresa Morgan noted that Radcliff Elementary was able to exit its status as a CSI school and that none of its schools were identified for additional help.

“I’m pleased with our focus to meet the needs of each individual student and the goals we have in place,” Morgan said in a statement. “… We recognize that we have more to do, and we will continue to find even more innovative ways to support all students.”

Anchorage Independent, Kentucky’s only school district given a five-star rating for elementary school and one of three to get a five-star designation in middle school, had mixed results on the latest round of assessments. The only school in the district, Anchorage Public School, received a five-star grade from the state.

At the elementary level, Anchorage students posted an 89.7% proficiency rate in reading and an 87.7% proficiency rate in math. Those results are up from 89.1% in reading and 78.9% in math based on the results of 2017-18 assessments.

But Anchorage middle school students’ proficiency rates in reading and math fell from the previous school year’s test results. After 94.4% of middle school students scored proficient or better in reading and 85.5% hit those marks in math, their results dropped to 87.5% and 80.8%, respectively, in 2018-19 exams.

While no nearby districts posted across-the-board gains in its reading and math proficiency rates, two came close and both received four-star ratings in at least one school level.

Students at Oldham County Schools improved proficiency in reading and math at every school level except one based on 2018-19 tests, coming within 0.2 percentage points of matching the prior year’s result in elementary math.

The district’s largest proficiency increase came in high school reading, where 66.6% of OCS students scored proficient or better. That’s up from the 64.3% proficiency rate in high school reading based on 2017-18 results.

OCS had no schools rated below three stars, though six that would have been four- or five-star schools were deducted a star for significant achievement gaps. In fact, the district would have received a five-star rating for its high school offerings if not for an English learner achievement gap and a four-star rating for its middle schools if not for a disabled student achievement gap.

Leslie Robertson, the district’s assessment coordinator, said OCS “is extremely proud of the overall scores of the majority of our schools.”

“We are, of course, saddened that the achievement gaps present in some schools resulted in the reduction of their star ratings, despite the overall stellar performance of the school as a whole,” Robertson said in a statement.

Elizabethtown Independent also came within a percentage point of showing year-to-year proficiency gains at every school level. The district’s elementary students were 0.9 percentage points from matching the 50.2% proficiency rate in math from 2017-18 testing.

Like OCS, Elizabethtown Independent’s most significant increase came in high school reading, where 61.6% of students scored proficient or better on 2018-19 assessments. That’s up from 53.8% proficiency in the prior year.

The district’s lone middle school, Talton K. Stone Middle, would have received a four-star rating but lost a star for black and disabled student achievement gaps, which also cost the district’s middle school grade a star.

Of 12 neighboring school districts with high schools, all but three outpaced the state’s 91.1% average of four- and five-year cohorts. Spencer County Public Schools posed the highest graduation rate among nearby districts with 97.4%.

While Ramsey says she sees value in giving schools and districts an added layer of accountability through the state’s new five-star rating system, she hopes school officials, parents and communities don’t lose sight of the need “to approach student learning from a holistic standpoint.”

Putting such a perspective into action, she said, can help make students across Kentucky more successful in their classrooms.

“It’s important that the results in this five-star accountability model released today sound an alarm for schools, districts and communities to bring the resources necessary, the relationships necessary to increase our outcomes with much greater urgency,” Ramsey said.

Star ratings for neighboring school districts

Five stars

  • Anchorage Public School (elementary and middle schools)

Four stars

  • Old Mill Elementary (Bullitt County)
  • Eastside Middle (Bullitt County)
  • Bullitt East High
  • Elizabethtown High School
  • Lincoln Trail Elementary (Hardin County)
  • Brandenburg Primary (Meade County)
  • Cox’s Creek Elementary (Nelson County)
  • Buckner Elementary (Oldham County)
  • Camden Station Elementary (Oldham County)
  • Crestwood Elementary (Oldham County)
  • Goshen at Hillcrest Elementary (Oldham County)
  • Harmony Elementary (Oldham County)
  • Kenwood Station Elementary (Oldham County)
  • Locust Grove Elementary (Oldham County)
  • North Oldham Middle (deducted one star for disabled student achievement gap)
  • North Oldham High (deducted one star for disabled student achievement gap)
  • South Oldham High (deducted one star for disabled student achievement gap)
  • Spencer County Middle

Three stars

  • Bardstown Elementary
  • Bardstown Primary
  • Bardstown Middle
  • Bardstown High
  • Brooks Elementary (Bullitt County)
  • Crossroads Elementary (Bullitt County)
  • Freedom Elementary School (Bullitt County)
  • Lebanon Junction Elementary (Bullitt County)
  • Mt. Washington Elementary (Bullitt County)
  • Nichols Elementary (Bullitt County)
  • Pleasant Grove Elementary School (Bullitt County)
  • Bernheim Middle School (Bullitt County; deducted one star for disabled student achievement gap)
  • Hebron Middle School (Bullitt County)
  • Mt. Washington Middle School (Bullitt County)
  • Helmwood Heights Elementary School (Elizabethtown Independent)
  • Morningside Elementary School (Elizabethtown Independent)
  • Talton K. Stone Middle School (Elizabethtown Independent; deducted one star for black student achievement gap)
  • Eminence Elementary School
  • Eminence High School
  • Cecilia Valley Elementary School (Hardin County)
  • G.C. Burkhead Elementary School (Hardin County)
  • Heartland Elementary School (Hardin County)
  • Lakewood Elementary School (Hardin County)
  • New Highland Elementary School (Hardin County)
  • Rineyville Elementary School (Hardin County)
  • Vine Grove Elementary School (Hardin County)
  • East Hardin Middle School (deducted one star for disabled student achievement gap)
  • James T. Alton Middle School (Hardin County)
  • West Hardin Middle School
  • Central Hardin High School
  • John Hardin High School (Hardin County)
  • North Hardin High School
  • Campbellsburg Elementary School (Henry County)
  • Eastern Elementary School (Henry County)
  • Henry County Middle School
  • Henry County High School
  • David T. Wilson Elementary (Meade County)
  • Ekron Elementary School (Meade County)
  • Flaherty Elementary School (Meade County)
  • Payneville Elementary School (Meade County)
  • Stuart Pepper Middle School (Meade County)
  • Meade County High School
  • Boston School (Nelson County)
  • Nelson County High School
  • Thomas Nelson High School (Nelson County)
  • Centerfield Elementary School (Oldham County)
  • Lagrange Elementary School (Oldham County)
  • East Oldham Middle School (deducted one star for disabled student achievement gap)
  • Oldham County Middle School
  • South Oldham Middle School (deducted one star for disabled student achievement gap)
  • Oldham County High School (deducted one star for English learner achievement gap)
  • Clear Creek Elementary (Shelby County)
  • Heritage Elementary (Shelby County)
  • Simpsonville Elementary (Shelby County)
  • Wright Elementary (Shelby County)
  • Shelby County East Middle School
  • Martha Layne Collins High School (Shelby County)
  • Spencer County Elementary School
  • Taylorsville Elementary School (Spencer County)
  • Spencer County High School (deducted one star for disabled student achievement gap)

Two stars

  • Cedar Grove Elementary (Bullitt County)
  • Maryville Elementary School (Bullitt County)
  • Overdale Elementary School (Bullitt County)
  • Roby Elementary School (Bullitt County)
  • Shepherdsville Elementary (Bullitt County)
  • Zoneton Middle School (Bullitt County)
  • Bullitt Central High School
  • North Bullitt High School
  • Eminence High School
  • Creekside Elementary School (Hardin County)
  • Radcliff Elementary  School (Hardin County)
  • Bluegrass Middle School (Hardin County)
  • North Middle School (Hardin County)
  • New Castle Elementary School (Henry County)
  • Bloomfield Elementary School (Nelson County)
  • Foster Heights Elementary School (Nelson County)
  • The New Haven School – elementary school (Nelson County)
  • Bloomfield Middle School (Nelson County)
  • Old Kentucky Home Middle School (Nelson County)
  • Painted Stone Elementary (Shelby County)
  • Southside Elementary (Shelby County)
  • Shelby County West Middle School
  • Shelby County High School
  • Bedford Elementary School (Trimble County)
  • Milton Elementary School (Trimble County)
  • Trimble County Junior/Senior High School (high school)

One star

  • Bullitt Lick Middle School (Bullitt County)
  • Meadow View Elementary School (Hardin County)
  • Woodland Elementary School (Hardin County)
  • The New Haven School – middle school (Nelson County)
  • Trimble County Junior/Senior High School (middle school)
  • West Point Elementary School (elementary and middle schools)

The statewide school report card, which includes assessment data for all Kentucky districts and schools, can be accessed by clicking here.

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