School accountability systems are in transition but information provided in school report cards, released at the end of September by the Kentucky Department of Education, still offers valuable data for local school leaders.
While the state accountability system has been known as Unbridled Learning, McLean County Public Schools Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Jodie Brackett said that since the passing of the Every Student Succeeds Act at the federal level and Senate Bill 1 at the state level, the state is transitioning to a new accountability system.
"This year they are giving us some of our data in different forms," she told the McLean County Board of Education in October. Schools were not given overall classifications, Brackett said. In the past, those classifications have been needs improvement, proficient or distinguished.
"We won't actually be in a new model this school year," she said. With testing, the state will try to report out "some of the things they see coming in the future, but the actual new accountability model will take effect in 18-19, the following year."
"As we're in a transition year, I still want to share with you some of the information that was provided in our school report card," Brackett said.
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Achievement measures the percentage of students performing at proficient and distinguished levels in content subject areas.
Brackett highlighted scores from the district's three elementary schools, middle school and high school in areas such as reading, math, social studies, on-demand writing, language mechanics and more.
"The one really nice surprise that I thought was a large leap for us was our high school on-demand writing," Brackett said in a follow up interview.
The percent of students that are proficient and distinguished in that content area rose from 42.8 percent last year to 62.2 percent in the 2016-17 year.
"To see that large gain was a nice surprise," she said.
Sacramento Elementary also performed well in math, with 84 percent of the students scoring proficient or distinguished and 0 percent novice scores. In an analysis by the Lexington Herald-Leader in September, that score put the Sacramento school in the top 10 performing elementary schools in math statewide.
During her presentation to the school board, Brackett also noted additional points of pride within the school report cards:
At Calhoun Elementary, 70 percent of third-grade math scores were above proficient.
The school "worked very hard on that ... I know that's one the school is very proud of," Brackett said.
Livermore Elementary stood out in social studies again this year, Brackett said. In fifth-grade, 72.5 percent of scores were above proficient.
At McLean County Middle School, 63 percent of sixth-grade math scores were above proficient and only 6.5 percent scored novice.
"I actually went back and looked at those students as fifth-graders and they did score well as fifth-graders but they even moved up a little more in sixth-grade," Brackett said.
Algebra II scores at the McLean County High School were 50.5 percent above proficient, the highest in the region, and the college or career readiness rate is 12 percent higher than the state.
According to Brackett, each school will analyze and reflect upon the data provided in the school report card with their faculty, look at it with the Site-Based Councils and being the improvement planning process, looking at areas that need improvement.
Schools, she said, "are working hard to understand the data and how to use that for constant improvement. We are always wanting to improve instructional strategies for our students. This is just one source of data."
This year, Brackett said the focus will be on students, looking at specific content areas and students in the gap group.
School report cards can be found online at Kentucky Department of Education website.