KSA data shows JCS is in the yellow
Published 10:30 am Wednesday, October 26, 2022
By Gillian Stawiszynski
Jessamine County Schools (JCS) 2021-2022 Report Card data shows a higher graduation rate and a higher rate of economically disadvantaged students who received proficient/distinguished scores compared to Kentucky overall.
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Still, the district has improvements to make after COVID-19.
To gauge school performances this year, the Kentucky Department of Education created a new color-coded system for the assessment and accountability of Kentucky school districts, along with a new standardized exam designed by teachers called the Kentucky Summative Assessment (KSA). Performance data was last reported before COVID in 2019 when the state used a five-star system.
Jessamine County Schools received a “yellow” or medium rating at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. JCS Superintendent Matt Moore did note that the district’s scores were close to the next color rating. He said he was confident the school district could reach the “green” rating next year.
Kentucky Education Commissioner Jason E. Glass said the state’s new assessment system makes it difficult to compare 2019 and 2022 data. Once next year’s findings are released, the public can access more explicit comparisons.
Glass and Moore stated that KSA scores indicate one test performance on one day and that the schools use several other methods to measure student success. Aside from KSA, JCS students have outscored other districts in ACT averages: 19.2 average for JCS compared to 18.3 statewide. JCS also exceeded state and national average scores for K-8 iReady testing.
Students at JCS outscored Kentucky averages in graduation rates. 89.9 percent of Kentucky students graduate in four years, whereas 93.7 percent of Jessamine County Students graduate in four years.
The KDE data shows a higher percentage of economically disadvantaged students who received the highest score of proficient/distinguished in reading and math than those of the same demographic in Kentucky overall.
But the JCS district is not yet out of the woods. Like the rest of the state, COVID has caused the lowest score categories of novice and apprentice to rise and the highest to fall.
Out of 7,913 JCS students, 480 of them are experiencing homelessness. According to the Kentucky Department of Education, homeless youths are defined as “individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence,” excluding foster children.
Students experiencing homelessness are 6.06 percent of the JCS Student population, higher than Jefferson County’s 3.08 percent, Fayette County’s 1.74 percent, and Kentucky’s 3.33 percent.
In every school level for each test, more than half of the district’s non-economically disadvantaged students almost always received the highest score.
COVID has disproportionately impacted Black, Hispanic, disabled, economically disadvantaged, and homeless students’ academic performances. Before the pandemic, these students already had a higher percentage of low scores than their white and non-economically underprivileged counterparts.
A higher percentage of these students received even lower scores for the math exam than for reading.
“There will be no quick fix for the challenges our students endured during the pandemic,” said Commissioner Glass, “It will take time and resources.”
What is the school district doing for these students? Targeted Support and Intervention (TSI) is a category used to describe schools with specific demographics that have averaged very low test scores. These demographics include special education students, students who qualify for free or reduced lunch, English language learners, and Black and Hispanic Students.
According to a letter from Jessamine County Schools, the district’s six TSI schools will receive additional support. The only demographics whose scores qualified schools for TSI were English learners at one school and students with disabilities at all six schools.
Superintendent Moore said the district has already started expanding current initiatives to improve higher levels of learning for students with disabilities. JCS has also begun implementing changes to the reading program to include “brain-based reading training” as part of the district’s TSI efforts.
JCS Director of Press Relations, Patrice Jones, said this isn’t to say students of color and economically disadvantaged students won’t receive any assistance; those students just don’t qualify as a group for TSI. However, Jones said there are plans to help low-scoring students individually.
“We recognize that we have some work to do, and we have a plan in place to get there,” said Moore.
To see the data for yourself, head to www.kyschoolreportcard.com/organization/5592?year=2022.