As Kentucky transitions to a new accountability model, schools too are having to adjust.
According to the latest assessment results presented to the Pulaski County Board of Education, the district's 14 schools are adjusting pretty well. Superintendent Pat Richardson noted that he's very proud of the 2017-18 assessment data, with all schools ranking in the top 25 percent or better statewide.
"Pulaski County Schools are again top ranked at all levels," District Assessment Coordinator Teresa Nicholas said in presenting the results. "We did awesome overall as a district."
Shopville Elementary has proved to be a district standout -- ranking No. 11 out of the state's 703 public elementary schools, or the top two percent, in reading and math proficiency. "Which is absolutely outstanding, phenomenal achievement," Nicholas said.
Shopville and Oak Hill, which was recently selected as a National Blue Ribbon School, tied at No. 49 (top seven percent in the state) when looking at the separate academic indicator score (social studies, science and writing combined).
Both Southern and Northern middle schools ranked in the top 25 percent of 318 middle schools statewide in terms reading and math proficiency. In terms of separate academic indicator, they also ranked in the top 25 percent -- 49 and 77 respectively.
At the high school level, proficiency scores were determined by the students' ACT scores in reading and math. Nicholas said that out of 228 high schools, both Pulaski County and Southwestern high schools were in the top 20 percent statewide. Instead of separate academic indicator and growth, the high schools were assessed for transition and graduation rates -- where both scored in the top 25 percent.
"They are both sitting at a four-year graduation rate of 97-98 percent," Nicholas said.
Nicholas explained that the state was required by new federal regulations to identify the bottom five percent of Title I schools for interventions. The state then had to identify subpopulations that performed as poorly as those schools. The district had three schools -- both Northern and Southern middle schools as well as Southwestern High School -- where the subpopulation of students with disabilities required targeted support.
"We're already putting plans in place to try to move their scores upward," Nicholas said.
The district is also looking at the subpopulations for English language learners and homeless students as well as science scores at each school level.
"Our instruction is in place but we have to push a little further," Nicholas said, noting science was a new test for elementary and middle school students this past year, "the depth of their knowledge and how they're applying that knowledge…It takes some adjustment."
At the high school level, Nicholas also noted that the ACT tests don't have the same accommodations as the former KPREP assessments. At both schools, while apprentice students outnumbered proficient in science, the science scores overall showed improvement."
"We know for the most part, we're meeting the needs of our subpopulations," Nicholas said. "We do have some areas that we know that we need to work on, and we've already put some plans in place and are currently working on some plans for that."
At the end of the presentation, board member Cindy Price asked about how many students were classified in the subpopulations. Nicholas responded the district averages about 100 English language learners. Assistant Superintendent Sonya Wilds added the district's homeless population is around 200 but noted that the state's definition is fairly broad and includes address instability. Special education students account for about 12 percent of the district's student population.
"It's an issue nationwide," Nicholas observed.
"Any time you can say you've got 14 schools that are in the top 25 percent of the state, as a district, we're doing very well," Richardson concluded. "We're very pleased, very proud of our students, our teachers and administrators for the job that they've done."