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SHEPHERDSVILLE - In any index for education, Bullitt County officials will tell you that they are not where they want to be.
But they will also tell you that they are moving in the right direction.
Despite an overall ranking of 10th best in the state, Bullitt County received its lowest mark in the 2013 Kentucky KIDS COUNT survey in the area of education.
The county finished at around the middle of the state with its ranking of 64.
Several categories went into the education domain.
In terms of the percentage of children ages 3-4 years not attending preschool, Bullitt County had 51.6 percent in that category.
That was below the state average of 56 percent, which is a positive.
Superintendent Keith Davis said he really didn’t know what could be determined from that factor.
State funded pre-school for everyone could provide some valuable educational tools for students; however, Davis said there is a big portion of a child’s education in which parents should be responsible for.
What might be a better course would be that child care facilities which are subsidized could have more required education, said Davis.
With the current economic climate, any changes would probably not come with additional funding, he added.
Another indicator of the education status was the percentage of fourth graders who are not proficient or distinguished in reading.
In Bullitt County for the 2012-13 school year, 51.9 percent fell into that category.
The state average was that 51.2 percent were not reading at proficient or distinguished levels.
At the same time, Davis said the local data shows that 85 percent of the fourth graders are reading at grade level, up from about 50 percent just four years ago.
“Reading is the most important thing we teach,” said Davis. “If one cannot read, they cannot do much else academically.”
Davis said the district has implemented numerous strategies and, most importantly, the data is available for each teacher to know the needs of every student in their class.
With that data, Davis said strategies are implemented to make sure students are reading at grade level.
Currently, the superintendent said board members will soon learn about a proposal that would provide reading remediation for those most in need. And the most difficult variable is time -- which is the most difficult to provide.
“Some kids just need more time because they don’t learn as quickly,” said Davis. “And, since that is an unavoidable fact, we either must provide additional time outside the regular school day and term, or they will not get to where they need to be.”
The data was collected on eighth graders in the 2012-13 testing cycle who were not proficient or distinguished in math.
Fifty-three percent of the Bullitt County eighth graders did not reach proficient or distinguished status in math.
For Kentucky, that mark was 54.9 percent.
Davis said that the strategy in math is very similar to reading -- use data to determine students who need assistance and then tailor instruction to help them learn.
While mathematical learning may be a bit different than reading, Davis said the principles are the same. The schools must make sure they are teaching the material and students are mastering it.
“If a student misses a big concept, it can damage that student’s ability to grasp future concepts,” said Davis.
And the final indicator in education was high school students who did not graduate on time.
This allows a student four years to graduate.
In Bullitt County, 14.8 percent of the students did not graduate within the four-year window.
In the state, 13.9 percent of the students didn’t earn a degree in that four-year span.
Thinking a little out of the conventional box, Davis said his big concern wasn’t necessarily having every student graduate in four years. Instead, his goal is to have each student ready for the next stage of their life.
Across the board, Davis said the high schools are doing a very good job and the numbers are growing quickly.
The mission is to prepare students for college or a career, which is mandatory for the Class of 2015 to earn diplomas.
“There is a great deal of positive energy in the high schools about making the experience a more meaningful preparation for the next stage of a student’s life,” said Davis.
The top 10
About this series...
Each year, the Kentucky Youth Advocates release a survey on the Kids Count. This looks at various factors on child welfare. The Pioneer News will look at four areas examined in the annual report.
See part one of the series here.
See part three of the series here.
See part four of the series here.