TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

November 2, 2012

Corbin Independent Schools named District of Distinction

Most Tri-County districts, schools need improvement, according to new test scores


The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — By Jeff Noble/Staff Writer

For one Tri County school district, the Kentucky School Report Card had high marks. For another district, the state classified them as “Proficient.” For the other districts, that same report card showed their school systems needing improvement.

For all districts here and across the state, officials are pouring over reams of information, trying to decipher the endless figures as the state completed a new round of standards, tests and scores that were released today.

As a district, the Corbin Independent Schools was designated as a “District of Distinction”  by the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE). The Williamsburg Independent Schools got the “Proficient” classification from the KDE. According to the state, the districts classified as “Needing Improvement” were Knox County, East Bernstadt Independent, Barbourville Independent, Whitley County and Laurel County.

It’s all because of what’s called “Unbridled Learning: College/Career Readiness for All —  a new assessment and accountability model developed by the Kentucky Board of Education.

“Kentucky is the first state to adopt common core standards in math and reading, and the first state to assess new common core standards. The new standards are much harder and more stringent, because of the increased difficulty of the tests,” said Dave Cox, Administrative Assistant for the Corbin Independent Schools on Tuesday.

He added the new standards would help prepare students for college and career readiness.

District-wide, Corbin Independent fared exceptionally well on the state’s report card.

Corbin got an overall score of 66.9. The Percentile Rank in Kentucky was at 97. The district was classified as Distinguished. And because of that, the state rewarded Corbin Independent as a District of Distinction.

According to the KDE, an individual school or school district is classified as “Distinguished” if their score is in the top 10 percent of districts or schools from a particular level, or in this case, the 90th to 99th percentile in the state.

Also, schools and districts are rewarded or need assistance as a result of their overall score, percentile rank in Kentucky and their classification. That’s shown in the “Rewards and Assistance Category.”

The Kentucky Department of Education notes that a “School or District of Distinction” has a score from the 95th to 99th percentile in the state, meets the student participation rate, and the graduation rate is above 60. Also, the school or district cannot be labeled as “Priority” or “Focus.”

Of the five individual schools in the Corbin district, Corbin Elementary School had the highest overall score with a 70.9. That ranked them with a Percentile Rank of 92, giving them a Distinguished classification, and rewarded as a Highest Performing School.

State Education Department figures say  the “Highest Performing School or District” scores are from the 90th to 94th percentile in the state, meets the student participation rate, and the graduation rate is above 60. In addition, it cannot be labeled as “Priority” or “Focus.”

The state report card said Corbin Middle School did exceptionally well. Their overall score was a 67.7, giving them a Percentile Rank of 94 and a classification of Distinguished. Like the elementary school, Corbin Middle was rewarded as a Highest Performing School.

The high marks continued with Corbin High School’s performance. They showed an overall score of 66.5, putting them with a Percentile Rank of 94, and a Distinguished classification. Along with Corbin Middle and Elementary Schools, Corbin High was rewarded as a Highest Performing School.

While its overall score was 63.2, Corbin Intermediate School’s Percentile Rank was lower than the other schools in the Corbin district, with a 73. They were also classified as “Proficient.”

According to the KDE, a school or district is classified as “Proficient”, if their score is in the 70th to 89th percentile in the state.

But Cox said there’s a reason for the school’s lower percentile rank.

“Even though our grade range for Corbin Intermediate is 5th and 6th Grades, the state put them in the Elementary School category,” he pointed out.  Cox added Corbin Primary School was not listed in the test scores, because the state did not test the school.

As a district, The Whitley County Schools had an overall score of 55.8, giving them a Kentucky rank of 54, and a “Needs Improvement” classification.

According to the state Department of Education,  a school or district “Needs Improvement” if their score is below the 70th percentile in the state.

Whitley County High School’s overall score was 51.6, earning them a Kentucky rank of 34, and was classified with “Needs Improvement”, as were all but two other schools in the district.

The exceptions were Whitley County East Elementary School and Whitley Central Intermediate School. Whitley East got a “Distinguished” classification, and a reward of being a Highest Performing School, while Whitley Central Intermediate got a “Proficient” classification.

The Williamsburg Independent Schools as a district had an overall score of 59.2, giving them a Kentucky rank of 78. That classified them as “Proficient.” Broken down, the state figures showed Williamsburg’s elementary school and high school were classified as “Needs Improvement,” while the middle school got a Proficient classification.

District-wide, the Knox County Public School system pulled an overall score of 46.1, giving the district a Kentucky rank of 7, which earned them a “Needs Improvement” classification.

For the district’s two high schools, Knox Central High’s overall score was 46.8, giving them a Kentucky rank of 16 and classified as Needs Improvement. Knox Central was also recognized in the profile as a “Priority School.”

A “Priority” school is a school identified as a Persistently Low Achieving (PLA) school, according to the KDE.

Lynn Camp High School’s overall score came in at 43.1, giving them a Kentucky rank of 8, and a “Needs Improvement” classification.

Three schools in the Knox County system — Lynn Camp Middle, Knox County Middle, and Flat Lick Elementary — were recognized in the test results as a “Focus School.”

The state Education Department states a “Focus School or District” has a non-duplicated gap group score in the bottom 10 percent of the state, or has an individual group of students scoring significantly low (by this rule, districts cannot be Focus) or has a graduation rate less than 60 for two consecutive years (districts cannot be Focus by this rule).

All other schools in the Knox County district listed in the Kentucky School Report Card were classified as “Needs Improvement.”

As a district, the Barbourville Independent Schools had an overall score of 50.8, for a Kentucky rank of 23, and a “Needs Improvement” classification. That classification was also broken down for the district’s elementary, middle school and high school.

The Laurel County Schools saw their district-wide overall score come in at 55.8, for a Kentucky rank of 54 and a “Needs Improvement” classification.

Among the district’s two high schools, South Laurel High had the higher rank with an overall score of 52.6 and a Kentucky rank of 40, while North Laurel High came in with an overall score of 49.2 and a Kentucky rank of 22. Both North Laurel and South Laurel High Schools were classified as “Needs Improvement,” and both were named as Focus Schools. Both South Laurel Middle School and North Laurel Middle School also got the “Needs Improvement” classification and were both recognized as Focus Schools.

One school in the Laurel County district that did score well was Bush Elementary School. Its overall score of 70.6 and a Kentucky rank of 91 earned Bush Elementary a “Distinguished” classification and being rewarded as a “Highest Performing School.

Four Laurel County elementary schools  — Camp Ground, Cold Hill, Hunter Hills and Sublimity Elementary — were given the “Proficient” classification. The remaining six elementary schools were classified as “Needs Improvement.”

As for the East Bernstadt Independent Schools district in Laurel County, their overall score was 46.5 and a Kentucky rank of 10. As a result they were classified as “Needs Improvement”, and recognized as a “Focus District.” Both their elementary and middle school also got “Needs Improvement” designation, with East Bernstadt Elementary recognized as a “Focus School.”

How did Kentucky’s public schools do statewide? As a group, the state average for elementary, middle and high schools came up to an overall score of 55.2.

For elementary schools alone, the score was 57.3. Middle schools alone scored 53.5, while high schools as a group came with an overall score of 54.8.

The overall score is a calculation using a formula that weights each component. Those five components are Achievement (student achievement on tests), Gap (how achievement varies among different groups of students), Growth (how much student performance improves from one year to the next), College/Career Readiness (how many students hit the targets to achieve the required level of preparation), and Graduation Rate (how many students complete high school).

By classification, out of 174 public school districts in Kentucky, 121 districts statewide were classified as “Needs Improvement”, while 35 districts were “Proficient” and 18 were “Distinguished.”

In the rewards and assistance category, nine school districts in Kentucky were rewarded as a “District of Distinction,” while nine districts were rewarded as  “Highest Performing District.” A total of 17 districts were recognized as a “Focus District.”

The new standards come with more rigorous testing, and that came about in 2009 when the state General Assembly in Frankfort passed legislation that mandated new, more thorough academic standards and new state tests. In 2011, Kentucky became the first of 46 states to adopt what’s called the Common Core State Standards. Those became the Kentucky Core Academic Standards, which were incorporated into the state’s classrooms, starting with the 20111-12 school year.

In February of this year, the state was granted flexibility under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) by the U. S. Department of Education. As a result, Kentucky’s allowed to use the Unbridled Learning model to report both state and federal-level measures for accountability.

This spring, state public school districts completed tests called K-PREP (Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress) in five content areas. Those areas are reading, science, mathematics, writing and social studies. For high school students, four end-of-course exams are included for Algebra II, Biology, English II and Social Studies.

The K-PREP tests are connected to the new, more stringent standards. Cox said the K-PREP replaced the NCLB testing, and as a result, new overall score for schools and districts will be on a scale from 0 to 100. In years past, it had been from 0 to 140.

The Kentucky Department of Education said individual student reports and student performance level definitions have been revised, but the terms remain the same.

More information on the Kentucky School Report Card, including more detailed figures on the individual schools and districts, can be found at the Kentucky Department of Education’s website at www.education.ky.gov.