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School officials prepared for worst; pleased with progress being made

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UNBRIDLED LEARNING

By Thomas Barr

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - The theme of the Bullitt County Public School System has been “Moving Forward.”

And even while scores throughout the state on the first version of its Unbridled Learning testing were expected to have significant drops, Bullitt County officials were pleased but certainly not satisfied with their marks.

Out of 174 school district, Bullitt County jumped into the top half for the first time with a percentile rank of 51, which means it is scored in the top 49 percent of the state’s districts.

While far from a top 10 ranking and a classification of distinguished, Bullitt County superintendent Keith Davis said it is much better than a ranking of 137th five years ago.

“The standards have definitely gone up in Kentucky and we understood that the scores might be a little shocking, especially to schools that normally scored high in the district,” said Davis.

Leading up to Friday’s release of the first test data under the new standards, educators throughout Kentucky have been warning parents, students and teachers that scores would be lower than normal.

This year’s scores will be used as a baseline and that would add a new measurement next year, as growth will be factored into the overall scores, said Terry Price, director of elementary education.

Overall, Davis said once the numbers are dissected more, educators locally should be very pleased with the continued progress that has been made.

Of the 13 elementary schools, seven were classified as proficient, which means they ranked in the 70-89 percentile in the entire state. None of the district’s 22 schools earned a top 10 percent score of being distinguished in the state rankings.

The other 14 schools were classified as needs improvement, which means that they scored in the 69th or lower percentile.

The proficient schools were Old Mill Elementary (87th percentile), Cedar Grove Elementary (84), Lebanon Junction Elementary (83), Eastside Middle (81), Overdale Elementary (78), Mount Washington Elementary (78), Freedom Elementary (77) and Pleasant Grove Elementary (74). 

The other school scores and percentile ranking were: Brooks Elementary (45), Crossroads Elementary (29), Maryville Elementary (49), Nichols Elementary (59), Roby Elementary (28), Shepherdsville Elementary (32), Bernheim Middle (59), Bullitt Lick Middle (21), Hebron Middle (20), Mount Washington Middle (68), Zoneton Middle (39), Bullitt Central High (18), Bullitt East High (63) and North Bullitt High (20).

Because some of the schools have academic gaps which must be closed for students with special needs, focus designations were placed on Bernheim Middle (reading), Hebron (reading), Zoneton (science), Bullitt Central (reading and writing) and North Bullitt (reading and writing).

Davis said that the continued growth in the district provides proof for what educators already know - Bullitt County students are learning the common core skills at a higher rate.

While much work will continue to be done at each individual school, starting with professional development session on Monday, Davis said there are many positives that can be drawn from the test results.

For example, the achievement levels at the elementary and middle schools are well above the state average. And the gap scores at those levels also exceeded the state average.

The high school scores are also inclusion of other measures, such as graduation rate and college career readiness.

Davis said the retention rate is lower than the state average, which is good. The dropout rate is also lower than the state average.

And the overall attendance rate for all Bullitt County schools is 94.7 percent, which is higher than the state average.

In terms of what the district’s plan, Greg Schultz, assistant superintendent for student learning, said that the programs in place today would continue.

“We’re in this for the long haul,” said Schultz. “We will continue the tools like MAP but we will always be looking for ways to improve student learning.”

Davis said there are some obvious measurable tools that must be addressed. He said the district must continue to focus on the reading competency for all students and to look at ways to accelerate the growth at the elementary and middle schools.

With the work done at the elementary and middle schools, Davis is looking for continued gains at the high schools. The district has tools such as the PLAN and ACT exams to help detect issues. But Davis said problem areas for students must be found before the high school years.

As a district, Davis said high school graduation rates must increase.

And he is excited about the work that has started at both the middle and high school levels on getting students career and college ready.

All three high schools will participate in the Close the Deal program to promote an awareness of career and college readiness.

“I see a lot of good things happening,” said Davis.

While the recently-released EXPLORE tests will not be part of this year’s school report card, district data specialist Jan Stone said they are impressive.

One of the biggest tasks with this first round of test results is to calm any fears from teachers, administrators or parents, said Davis.

“We have made great strides over the past five years,” said Davis. “This district has a great group of administrators, teachers and classified employees who are all working very hard to help students improve.”

Davis said he isn’t satisfied with the results because the goal of everyone in the district should be to reach the level of distinguished.

The superintendent knows there is pressure and the release of the test data doesn’t help alleviate any of the pressure. However, he said it should validate the hard work everyone is doing.

To have a district which has among the lowest in per pupil revenue available and be among the most progressive, Davis said that is impressive.

“It is huge for us to be in the top half of the school districts in the state,” said Davis. “We’ve come a long way but we’re not finished.”

A special meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 5, will be used to give board members an overview of the test results. Students are not in session that day but teachers are to be at work learning more about those scores.

While Bullitt County had an overall score of 55, some surrounding district marks were:

Jefferson County, 50.8 score, 23rd percentile

Oldham County, 66.3 score, 96th percentile

Spencer County, 58.7 score, 75th percentile

Shelby County, 56.0 score, 56th percentile

Nelson County, 54.1 score, 45th percentile

Hardin County, 57.8 score, 66th percentile

 

The following is the overall score of the district and each school, as well as the growth goal to be reached next fall:

ELEMENTARY

Brooks, 56.6 score, 57.6 2012-13 goal

Cedar Grove, 67.0, 67.5 goal

Crossroads, 52.1, 53.1 goal

Freedom, 64.4, 64.9 goal

Lebanon Junction, 66.4, 66.9 goal

Mount Washington, 64.9, 65.4 goal

Maryville, 57.4, 58.4 goal

Nichols, 59.9, 60.9 goal

Old Mill, 68.4, 68.9 goal

Overdale, 64.9, 65.4 goal

Pleasant Grove, 63.5, 64.0 goal

Roby, 51.9, 52.9 goal

Shepherdsville, 52.9, 53.9 goal

MIDDLE

Bernheim, 56.4, 57.4 goal

Bullitt Lick, 47.0, 48.0 goal

Eastside, 61.5, 62.0 goal

Hebron, 46.7, 47.7 goal

Mount Washington, 58.4, 59.4 goal

Zoneton, 51.9, 52.9 goal

HIGH

Bullitt Central, 48.0, 49.0 goal

Bullitt East, 56.9, 57.9 goal

North Bullitt, 48.5, 49.5 goal