While the recently released test scores from the first K-PREP shows Harrison County schools hovering around the middle of the 174 school districts in the state, there are some brighter spots as well.
Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP) is the result of the 2009 General Assembly mandate for a new public school assessment program.
Local administrators have been awaiting the changes, knowing that they would be drastic.
“This is completely different than anything we’ve had since KERA,” said Superintendent Andy Dotson.
Of the 174 school districts in the state, Harrison County ranked 80th.
Some of the school districts in neighboring counties fared better than Harrison County. Scott County ranked 40th ahead of Bourbon County’s 59th place and Pendleton County’s 73rd. The rest finished behind Harrison County. Bracken County ranked 96th followed by Grant County at 106, Paris at 161, Nicholas 163 and Robertson 172.
Case noted that last year was the first year the new standards applied in math and reading and it was the first year the new curriculum was introduced to teachers and students.
“Anytime you have change there is an adjustment period,” Case said, noting that the 2011 testing created a baseline for future testing.
K-PREP is a nationally standardized test which has been approved by 47 states. However, Kentucky was the first to test under the new standards.
Previously, school districts were shooting for a 100 percent proficiency on a scale of 0 to 140. Now the goal is established based on the scores from the previous testing cycle.
An example is that the district’s score for the 2011 cycle was 55.8 percent. To reach its proficiency score, Harrison County as a whole needs to improve to a 58.4 percent for 2012.
Each of Harrison County’s schools finished with a “needs improvement” classification.
Dotson explained that any school that scored under the top 31 percent of Kentucky’s schools were classified as “needs improvement.”
Case said the scores were assessed on a bell curve giving the top 10 percent of the schools a distinguished rating. The next 21 percent were proficient. The rest were “needs improvement.”
Test results from more than one year will help educators determine what areas truly need improvement.
“Right now, we’re shooting at a target that’s a number,” Dotson said.
Harrison County’s schools scores were as follows:
•Eastside Elementary scored 55.3 and has a 62.5 proficiency goal. Eastside scored above 40 percent of other schools in the state.
•Northside scored 53.6 with a 62.5 proficiency goal. Northside scored above 35 percent of other schools in Kentucky.
•Southside scored 58.7 and needs to improve 3.8 percent to reach its 62.5 proficiency goal. Southside students scored above 55 percent of other schools in the state.
•Westside scored 59.4 and was ranked in the 57th percentile.
•Harrison County Middle School scored 55.5 and was ranked in the 55th percentile.
•HCHS scored 54.9 and was ranked in the 53rd percentile. HCHS was also declared a “needs improvement-focus” school.
Case explained that the “focus” indicates that the school had a 60 percent or less graduation rate for two consecutive years, which Harrison County had a 77.8 percent graduation rate; or that it had a subgroup with a score in the third standard deviation below the state average for all students, which is where HCHS fell short.
Case said the special needs subgroup at the high school scored low which created the “focus” classification.
The subgroup or gap, Case said, is defined as students who historically under perform on the tests when compared to other students. Those being students who are the free and reduced lunch population, special needs, students who speak English as a second language and African American students.
“That doesn’t mean we don’t have students in those groups who score well,” Case stressed.
Dotson and Case said the ultimate goal of the new test is to have every student who graduates from Harrison County schools be college or career ready.
In the past, educators have concentrated on preparing students for college. Now, there is an understanding that not every child is going to college. However, those students must still be prepared for whatever career they choose.
Case said that may mean more vocational classes.
“We have to start earlier working with children, challenging kids earlier,” Dotson said.