Summative test scores released for JCS

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Submitted Article

The Kentucky Department of Education has released school report card data from the 2022-2023 academic year, including the results of state tests under the Kentucky Summative Assessment (KSA.) Last year, Kentucky launched a new color-coded accountability system that provides an individual rating for each school, ranging from the lowest level signified by red to the highest level at blue. School ratings are combined to provide a separate overall color-coded district rating for each of the three levels-elementary, middle, and high. Student-level reports detail individual student performance on the KSA, allowing schools the opportunity to tailor instruction and share single student results with their families.

Performance in the statewide accountability system is based on a combination of academic and school quality measures, known as “state indicators.” The indicators are evaluated on “status,” representing a school’s performance for the current year, and “change,” representing the school’s performance for the current year compared with the previous year. The status and change scores are combined for an overall score. As the new system was implemented in 2022, this is the first year that “change” will be measured and factored into the ratings.

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When all available state indicator data for individual JCS schools was aggregated to determine an overall rating for each of the three levels, the Jessamine County School istrict (JCS) received a “yellow” or “medium” rating at each level, elementary, middle, and high.

JCS Superintendent Matt Moore shared a number of celebrations from the 2023 assessment results:

• Jessamine County’s graduation rate of 94.7 is higher than the state average of 92. Moore credits JCS school staff at all levels for this accomplishment, saying that a strong foundation laid in the earlier grades helps to pave the way for success at each next level. He also shared that JCS’s range of course offerings and strong support systems to aid students who struggle academically and/or socially contribute greatly to the district’s higher than average graduation rate.

• JCS students had extremely strong results in the area of postsecondary readiness, demonstrating that when students leave JCS, they are well-prepared for their college or career experience

• At the elementary and middle school levels, scores improved in science, social studies, and writing

• Middle school results showed improvement in both reading and math

• The performance of English language learners has improved significantly from 2022. With increased numbers of EL students, this is an important indicator that JCS is better meeting the unique needs of these students.

• African American student performance improved in a number of subject areas at the elementary and middle school levels.

The KSA system includes measures to determine how well students in certain subpopulations perform and schools with one or more of these demographic groups that are under-performing are categorized as Targeted Support and Intervention (TSI) schools. The subpopulations include English language learners, special education students, students who qualify for free/reduced meals, and certain racial/ethnic groups.

Superintendent Moore says that while the district’s goal is to have zero schools identified as TSI, a reduction from six schools in 2022 to four schools in 2023 is evidence of the significant amount of work JCS has invested into addressing the reasons for performance gaps within identified groups. The four schools identified as TSI in 2023 were all related to the performance of students with disabilities and Moore says that the district is already seeing significant improvement with this group of students.

“One of the celebrations that I am most excited about is the progress that we have made in serving students with special needs. While there is still work to be done, I’m proud of the gains made by our students with disabilities, with our 2023 results showing significant growth in reading and math across all grade levels.” Moore credits the improvement to very intentional work in staff professional development and the restructuring of special education services.

JCS Chief Academic Officer Hannah Campbell said that the KSA scores provide additional information about areas where students need support. “These results are just one of several tools that we use to measure student academic growth. It’s a single test on a single day and an important piece of information; however, these results cannot and should not be used in isolation to provide an accurate picture of what’s occurring in our classrooms. This information supplements the data teachers gain through their daily interaction with students and the variety of opportunities students have to show what they know and can do.”

One of these additional measures is student assessment data from the iReady testing system which measures student academic growth in grades K-8. iReady testing provides state and national comparisons for student performance in the focus curriculum areas of reading and math. Fall 2023 iReady data indicates that JCS exceeds Kentucky in the percentage of students who are performing on grade level in reading and math and exceeds the national average in the percentage of students performing on grade level in reading. Results also indicate that JCS students averaged over one year’s worth of academic gains in reading and math in a single year.

Moore and Campbell said that the KSA results were for the most part expected and that the district has already identified areas of needed improvement and is making adjustments to address concerns including

• Fine tuning specially-designed instruction for students with disabilities, providing additional training and resources for teachers with a focus on individualized student instruction

• Changes to the reading curriculum at the elementary level, with a strong focus on phonics instruction

• The implementation of new English and science curriculums at the high school level

• Continuing to utilize systems (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, Social Emotional Learning, STOP Tipline, etc…) and the work of staff, including additional counselors and School Resource Officers, to improve student perception of school climate and safety.

Moore said, “I’m so very proud of the work that occurs each day in our schools. Our district does an incredible job of providing not only what our students need academically, but also for their overall well-being and what each individual student needs to flourish. As we use these and other data points to guide instruction, we’ll also continue an on-going dialogue with our students and their families about how we’re doing and how we can improve. We have a continuous improvement mindset and we’re up to the task and so are our students.”