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Assessment data shows school district lost ground in 2012-2013

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By Mallory Bilger

Editor’s note: This article is part one in a three-part series addressing the 2012-2013 Kentucky School Report Cards and assessment data released last week by the Kentucky Department of Education. This week’s article addresses district scores as a whole.
Spencer County Schools’ state assessment scores are in and, unlike last year’s celebratory mood, a feeling of concern is prevailing across the district as three of the area’s four schools saw their 2012-2013 scores decline from 2011-2012.

The Kentucky Department of Education released the state, district and school report cards last week, which include the Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress test results and other data that affects district individual school state rank. Spencer County fell from the 75th percentile to the 51st in one year — meaning when compared to other public districts across the state for 2012-2013, the district is almost exactly in the middle. The district went from being classified as a proficient district to one that needs improvement. Spencer County Elementary, Taylorsville Elementary and Spencer County Middle School all saw drops in their overall scores from last year, while Spencer County High School managed to raise its overall score from 52.5 in 2012 to 53.6 in 2013, putting SCHS in the 43 percentile when compared to other Kentucky public high schools.
Assistant Superintendent Chuck Abell said he, the superintendent, building-level administrators and teachers have been mulling over the data for weeks and are obviously not pleased, but refuse to panic because that response would be counterproductive.
“We did not go the direction that we wanted to,” Abell said. “But we’re not ready to hit the panic button.”
According to district K-PREP data, 52.3 percent of elementary students tested in reading scored proficient or distinguished, while 48.4 percent of middle school students scored proficient or distinguished. The remaining students tested locally tested novice or apprentice. The goal is to have each student at proficient levels or higher.
In math, 49.7 percent of elementary students tested in math scored proficient or distinguished, while 39.5 percent of middle school students scored proficient or distinguished. In science, 80.5 percent of elementary students scored proficient or distinguished, while 56.6 of middle school students scored in that category. In social students 58.7 percent of elementary students scored proficient or higher, while 56.1 percent of middle school students tested scored proficient or higher. In writing, 44.7 percent of elementary school students tested scored proficient or higher, while 37.6 percent of middle school students scored in that category and 44 percent of high schoolers tested fell in that category. In language mechanics 60.9 percent of elementary students tested earned proficient or higher, while 45.3 percent of middle school students tested scored in that same category and 53.1 percent of high school students tested fell into that area as well.
Additional information affecting the high school and middle school overall ranking, including ACT, EXPLORE and PLAN test results and end-of-course exams, will be addressed in separate articles looking more deeply at each school.
Abell said each school was evaluating its classroom techniques and teachers were carefully examining individual student data, which is available through Kentucky’s new Unbridled Learning initiative. He said college and career ready strategies would have to continue to improve, as well as addressing individual student needs. He said local teachers were very concerned and already adjusting strategies to improve scores next year. He added that growth scores — which also affect a school’s overall rank — were also down across the district, meaning students were not making enough progress when compared to last year.
“We’re not going to be satisfied with the peaks and valleys each year,” Abell said.
Check next week’s Spencer Magnet for part two of this three-part series addressing the district’s assessment results. Next week’s article will address both the district’s elementary school results.