Years in the making, Kentucky's 5-star accountability system went live last year.

This year, the coronavirus pandemic gripped the globe. Kentucky schools shut down in-person instruction in mid-March and received a federal waiver from accountability testing.

As a result, the 2019-20 School Report Cards -- released Wednesday by the Kentucky Department of Education -- focus on school demographics, educational opportunities, school safety and transitional readiness.

"Though there is limited data available, we hope this information will be useful to start conversations between schools, families and community members about how to ensure all of our students are receiving a high-quality education," Kentucky Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass stated. "We know there still is a lot of work to be done. The Kentucky Department of Education is here to work alongside our districts to provide the supports they need as they continue focusing on student achievement."

Glass added that information on Kentucky's School Report Card should be a resource to spark a conversation about education in local communities. School Report Card data is available at https://www.kyschoolreportcard.com.

PULASKI COUNTY SCHOOLS

With Pulaski County Superintendent Patrick Richardson out on medical leave, Teresa Nicholas -- District Director of Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment, and Technology -- said that school officials are pleased with the local data that is available.

"The Kindergarten screener provides baseline data for our students and the results are very similar to overall state performance," Nicholas stated. "In terms of graduation rate, Pulaski County Schools has one of the highest graduation rates state wide and have maintained this for several years."

State education officials are touting Kentucky's high graduation rate, with 90.9 percent of students earning high school diplomas in four years. As a district, Pulaski County blows that figure out of the water with a collective 98.2 percent between Pulaski County and Southwestern high schools.

The Career and Technical Education (CTE) Snapshot highlights students in the 12th-grade cohort who have completed at least one CTE credit. Some 43 percent of that cohort in Pulaski County achieved completer status -- meaning they completed at least four CTE credits in a single career pathway -- as compared to 40 percent statewide.

At the other end of the K-12 spectrum, Kindergarten Screener information is available in the Academic Performance area of the card. Collectively among Pulaski County's eight elementary schools, 45.7 percent of students were deemed kindergarten-ready -- lagging behind the 51 percent state average.

Information is also available regarding English-learning students as broken down by grade level.

According to KDE's Office of Educator Licensure and Effectiveness, Kentucky ranks 5th in the nation for the new National Board Certified teachers and 8th for the total number of teachers certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The Pulaski County School System has a dozen teachers who have been certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Nearly 36 percent are classified Rank I while 41 percent have achieved Master's degrees.

SOMERSET

INDEPENDENT

Somerset Independent Schools assessment coordinator Cindy Ham admitted Wednesday that she had very little data, but what she did have she spoke positively about.

"We increased our four-year graduation rate," she said, pointing out that it went from 89.9 percent to 96.2 percent.

That means more diplomas in the hands of students and fewer students getting "lost" within those four years.

"We were very pleased with that," Ham said. She said that Somerset High School graduated 133 this year.

"Since we have such small classes, every student counts," she said.

She also spoke highly of the district's English Learner Proficiency goals. English Learners are those who show proficiency in learning English as a second language. Scores are reported in the measures of Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.

"We met all goals the state had for us," Ham said, "and in all three schools we had several who are considered 'proficient.'"

Beyond that, Ham had no further data, she said. ACT make up tests were only administered in September, and the schools do not have those scores back, she said.

Plus, like other schools all K-PREP (Kentucky. Performance Rating for Educational Progress) testing was suspended, she said.

As for the Kindergarten Screener information, the assessment showed that 47.2 percent of Hopkins Elementary's incoming Kindergarteners were considered kindergarten-ready, slightly behind the state average of 51 percent.

SCIENCE HILL SCHOOL

As Science Hill Independent School only goes through the 8th grade, graduation rates and CTE data were not available.

In terms of kindergarten screening, 69.8 percent of Science Hill class was deemed kindergarten-ready -- exceeding the state's 51-percent average.

The school has one teacher certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards with just over 42 percent of the teaching staff having Master's degree and another 42 percent classified as Rank I.

Despite the limited data available, Science Hill Superintendent Jimmy Dyehouse said he feels good about where the school falls academically.

"We are doing exceptionally well considering the circumstances COVID has placed us under," Dyehouse said. "Our safe reopening of school on September 9 has gone really well."

Dyehouse went on to say that the district doesn't have any cases or quarantines due to school-related incidents and that there are currently 100 kids distance learning. He estimates a third of those will be coming back to school on November 9.

"That has been very positive feedback from these parents and students," Dyehouse said. "It has actually gone very smooth. Our teachers have worked so hard to make sure that these kids are getting the same quality education as in person kids."

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