KNOX COUNTY — After taking approximately four years to develop, following the December 2015 passage of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Kentucky’s new five-star accountability system for public schools is now in effect and both Knox County and Barbourville Superintendents have reviewed and weighed in on their assessments.

Knox County found itself among the top and the middle of the statewide averages. The highlight, G.R. Hampton Elementary School, received five stars with an overall score of 88.5. Only 37 elementary schools in the state received the five-star rating. Hampton also made another state list, one of the top 20 schools for growth.

Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis is recognizing the schools for extraordinary growth and academic progress on a first Commissioner’s List. Lewis will be presenting the principal of each school with a certificate for its growth progress in the coming weeks.

Four Knox County Schools were rated four-star schools, finding themselves among 233 schools statewide. Those schools included Central Elementary, Dewitt, Jesse D. Lay and Knox County Middle School.

“The scores represent a snapshot in time of what is happening in the Knox County Public Schools,” Superintendent Kelly Sprinkles said. “It is one set of data among many that we will use to continue to grow as a school district.”

Information released by the Department of Education reflecting the 2018-2019 school year can be viewed in the form of an online dashboard on the Kentucky School Report Card website, recently launched where reports for each school and the district will show graphics displaying the overall identification of one to five stars, federal classifications, the performance on indicators (from very low to very high), and any statistically significant achievement gaps.

Visit the Kentucky School Report Card website at for school, district, and statewide data.

“Our improvement plans are intentionally designed to focus not only on standards, instruction, and assessment but also the support and learning environment within each school,” said Sprinkles. “The plans include strategies and supporting actions the district must take in order for us to achieve what our portrait of a graduate represents, beginning with preschool and kindergarten.”

Knox County families will have the opportunity to review their child’s K-PREP test results and the results of i-Ready and MAP testing during fall open houses. Families may also contact their child’s school directly to receive the information.

“We are pleased with the gains our schools are seeing this year,” said Sprinkles. “However we must keep those labels in perspective, understanding how they are calculated, and seeing them as just one more piece that we can use to ensure all students are succeeding.”

Students, faculty and staff members in the Barbourville Independent School District spent their Tuesday celebrating the success of their students as well.

In addition to last week’s news that Barbourville Independent was ranked one of 12 districts named a Bright Spot in education by the Prichard Committee, Barbourville Independent also received a four-star rating, according to the new accountability system.

Tuesday morning they started the day off with “Donuts with Dixon” for all students scoring proficient. The afternoon was spent celebrating in the gym with a pep rally and games.

Barbourville Elementary received a four-star rating with an overall score of 72.4. The middle school also received a four-star rating with an overall score of 73.9. Only nine middle schools statewide received a five-star rating, and Barbourville Middle School was only 0.1 away from being a five star. The high school was rated a three-star with a score of 69.5.

“We are excited about the overall growth of our students,” said Barbourville Superintendent Kay Dixon. “Our staff is focused on rigorous instruction that engages students. I am confident our staff will have our students prepared and ready for a bright future.”

Barbourville also received many high or very high categories in the individual performance indicators. Barbourville Elementary School received a very high rating for separate academic indicator, and a high rating for proficiency. Barbourville Middle School received a very high rating for proficiency and growth and a high rating in separate academic indicator. Barbourville High School received a very high rating for transition readiness and graduation and a high rating for separate academic indicator.

In a press release from the district, administrators said after achieving many of their goals established in last year’s school improvement plan, district administrators have met with teachers, the teacher quality group, and the board of education to make plans for new goals for the district. The district is extremely data driven and works with data through bi-weekly PLC meetings to drive instruction. Student engagement and rigor is always a part of daily instruction. All stakeholders including teachers, parents, community leaders, board members, and administrators will continue to meet reviewing data and establishing goals for the 2019-2020 Comprehensive School Improvement Plan.

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