SHEPHERDSVILLE - Bullitt County educators should be ecstatic about the gains made in student learning indicators over the past few years.
And, if you looked at the trends over the past three years, the number of students who have scored in the proficient and distinguished categories have risen dramatically.
However, there is another set of standards on which schools are judged. And Bullitt County joined a whole lot of other school districts in earning failing marks for the federal No Child Left Behind program.
In fact, only 22 of the state's 174 school district can claim that they met all the federal standards and passed the NCLB report card. No public district in the region met all the standards.
"This is a law problem," said Bullitt County superintendent Keith Davis. "We're comparing apples with truck engines. It's not even the same fruit."
President Obama has recently made a call for a study of the federal program, which Davis said is long overdue.
As a district, Bullitt County met four of the 13 target goals. In reading and math, the district did not meet the standards in any of the student groups.
"We're not satisfied," said Davis. "But it's plain stupid. No one should feel bad when the scores are going up as much as they are."
Part of Kentucky's issue is that its standards for NCLB targets are much higher than many states, according to Greg Schultz, assistant superintendent for student learning. This year's benchmarks increased significantly over 2010.
Individually, only six of the district's 22 schools met all their federal targets.
At the elementary level, Nichols, Freedom, Pleasant Grove and Old Mill met all their targets.
At the middle school level, Bernheim was alone in meeting the federal standards.
David Marshall, director of secondary education, said that the strides made at the middle schools has been very encouraging. Using common pacing guides, sharing information among schools and having elementary schools doing a better job of preparing students has been a key, said Marshall.
And even when schools are not making all the targets, the number of proficient and distinguished learning is at all-time highs. For example, he pointed to Eastside and Mount Washington middle schools - both honored as being among the best in the state - have 82 percent of their students who are proficient or distinguished.
"That's incredible but they still failed," said Marshall.
At the high school level, Davis said strides continue to be made; however, starting at lower numbers means that the climb is much greater.
And Terry Price, director of elementary education, said the work at that level continues to be impressive. The only blip appeared at the fourth-grade level and he will see if that is a statewide trend, which means students may have been tested on material they had not received.
Jan Stone, who is in charge of district data and assessment, said that it is difficult to present administrators and teachers the NCLB news when they have been working so hard to improve learning.
"We are making a difference for the students," said Stone. "The scores show that."
For example, at the elementary level, the number of proficient and distinguished students has risen over the past four years in all areas - reading, math, science, social studies and on-demand writing.
At the middle school level, double-digit increases were shown over that period for math, social students and on-demand. And the other two areas improved over 7 percent.
For the high schools, the only area to show a decrease over the four-year period was science, which fell 1.1 percent. Conversely, those scoring proficient or distinguished in math improved by 11.97.
But while the scores are improving, the federal targets are jumping by an average of 10 points in math and reading.
Schultz said it is upsetting to know that everyone is working so hard and the only thing the public has to gauge the district on is the test scores and NCLB.
"I would be proud to have my child attend any school in Bullitt County," said Schultz. "Students are getting a quality education wherever they attend."
Price said he sent out an e-mail telling teachers that they are making a difference and the scores are going up. He said it is important that they know the central office staff is supportive of their efforts.
Davis is confident the next round of scores in a month or so will provide a better picture of what work is being done in the district.
"We are getting better and our students are learning," said Davis.