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School officials like latest trends

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Long road continues to be traveled for district

By Lyndsey Gilpin

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - Although Bullitt County Public Schools’ MAP scores are steadily increasing, following the trend from recent years, the district has a long road ahead. 

The Bullitt County Public School Board met for a quarterly review of district progress and initiatives Monday. 

“We are pretty happy with the growth we see,” Greg Schultz, Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning, said. “Based on these rates, kids are more prepared for the next grade than they were last year.”

The MAP scores are based on reading and math. Each grade is averaged together to determine growth. 

In math, Kindergarten through 11 grade scored higher this year than in 2010, except for grade 7, which decreased by .1 percent. 

Grades K-11 saw increases in reading scores, with the exception of grades 7 and 11. 

“There seems to be a theme with seventh-graders,” Schultz said. “We need to look at it.”

Another problem was the decrease in proficiency from fifth to sixth grade. Several board members and principals thought it was due to the transition stage students experience, and agreed to investigate the issue further. 

Overall, the district experience progress gains. Maryville Elementary and Bernheim Middle had two of the biggest improvements.

“We really attacked this, and teachers became serious about MAP,” Sam Cowan, principal of Maryville Elementary, said. “We had our own target children on a watch list, and worked individually with them.”

He added that almost every teacher stayed after school to tutor students, and also worked on thinking strategies. 

Bernheim Middle principal Willie Foster credited much of his school’s success to Compass Learning, an online program for students who are behind in reading and math. 

“Teachers really embraced the program,” Foster said. “There was a meaningful level of intervention, and we were the first to hop onto Carnegie.”

Carnegie is a separate online program, which focuses solely on mathematics. 

Several other principals said “getting excited” about the subjects was important, as was allowing students extra time to catch up, and improving instruction in the classroom. 

Superintendent Keith Davis was concerned with the declines in some areas, but understood the test is relatively new. MAP testing began in the fall of 2009, and these results were the sixth round.

“These are trends over time,” Davis said. “It’s about kids with different needs of instruction. There are a lot of variables at play here.”

Schultz reiterated that point, adding, “Kids may be more motivated on state testing than MAP, and some on MAP than state. This is not an autopsy at this point.”

However, the district is struggling with reading proficiency, and Schultz believes it is partly due to lack of motivation. 

“The older students get, especially males, the less they want to read,” he said. 

Board member Gary Wooldridge said that reading instruction lessens after third grade, so the district will continue to look at new ways to continue literacy work, particularly in middle school. 

“There is no one, single, magical method,” Schultz said. 

David added that the board will address the problems in the near future.

 “I am confident in the ability of everyone in the room. There are no gumption problems here,” he said.