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Schools proud of results

Superintendent reflects on efforts across the district

As Kentucky transitions from the current Unbridled Learning Accountability Model to a new system scheduled to be in place for the 2018-19 school year, testing results — as well as school and district report cards — look different this fall.

This year, there are no overall scores, rankings, or labels. So, with a new five-star rating system coming in two years, how do parents determine now how well their child’s school is doing?

The short answer is the testing process did provide many of the same pieces of data that were previously used to classify and rank schools and districts, and Kentucky schools do have assessment results.

Jessamine County Schools Superintendent Matt Moore said, “Assessment results are one of the many tools that we use to gauge student progress and improve instruction. Many of the opportunities for growth that were evident from our testing results had already been identified and are being addressed. The feedback that we received from the results is cause for celebration as well as affirmation that we are on the right path for continuous improvement.”

One result that particularly pleases Moore is the district’s graduation rate of 94.1, up from last year’s rate of 91.5.

“Of all of the good news, I am most proud of the improvement in our graduation rate,” he said. “This gain is meaningful to me because it is the direct result of the work, from preschool on, to prepare students for a rigorous high school curriculum. It is a reflection of the efforts across our entire district, and should be celebrated in every building.”

Another strong indicator of the commitment at every level of the district to prepare students for the next steps is the rate for College and Career Readiness (CCR) results.

The district’s CCR rate climbed from last year’s rate of 81.9 to 92.5.

Moore attributes this marked increase to the district’s focus on ensuring that students are “life-ready”, saying that there has been an intentional shift to beginning college and career preparation at an earlier age.

“While our high schools do a phenomenal job of guiding students in career pathway exploration, our middle and elementary schools are sharing in that effort more and more, and they too, should be recognized for these results,” he said.

Other significant accomplishments for Jessamine students include the overall ACT composite score being higher than the state average, all “End of Course” subject area scores being higher than the state averages for the number of students scoring Proficient and Distinguished, achievement scores at the middle school level improving 4.1 percent over last year’s and Elementary schools showing noticeable improvement in the areas of writing and social studies.

Moore said that the middle and high schools are doing an excellent job of closing the performance gap in comparison to the what the state considers “typical” students and students in identified demographic groups, including those based on race/ethnicity, free and reduced lunch eligibility, special education and English language learners. Advanced placement results indicated that 53.18 percent of the district’s free and reduced lunch students’ exam scores may qualify them for college credit, compared to only 33.14 percent at the state level.

Moore also lauded the performance of the elementary schools in reading, saying Jessamine County had fewer students scoring in the Novice category than the state average, and a higher number of students scoring Proficient and Distinguished than in Kentucky.

Moving forward, the district will focus on literacy as an area for growth.

Chief Academic Officer Michele Reynolds said the district has already begun the process of revamping and supplementing the curriculum to improve district literacy programs.

Improving literacy skills, she says, will also lead to an improvement in math skills, as many math curriculum materials are literacy-based. 

Reynolds went on to say that her district Office of Teaching and Learning is working to tailor supports to ensure that students are mastering these critical skills that apply, not only to reading, but other subject areas as well. Those efforts will be a priority for the district until students are reading on or above grade level.

“We have work to do, there is no doubt. However, in Jessamine County, we don’t wait for test results to determine how we’re doing and where we need to improve,” Moore said. “We continuously monitor and evaluate our performance as well as our students’ progress and make adjustments.”

“We are currently working with the Jessamine County Board of Education on fine tuning the district strategic plan, and I am pleased that the areas that have been identified as focal points of our strategic vision are perfect avenues to address our opportunities for growth,” he added.

All data for the assessment and accountability system are publicly available in the Kentucky School Report Card on the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) website, located at http://applications.education.ky.gov/SRC/ProfileByDistrict.aspx.