McCreary Voice, Whitley City, Sept. 29, 2016
PKP, MCHS leading the District
The McCreary County School District has a new School of Distinction in Pine Knot Primary School, and McCreary Central High School earned Distinguished marks according to the Kentucky Department of Education Unbridled Learning Accountability data released today.
School and District report cards became publically available today at http://applications.education.ky.gov/SRC/, and contain detailed breakdowns of assessment data for all county schools. Both PKP and MCHS saw significant gains in overall accountability scores, as well as the School District as a whole, while McCreary Middle, Pine Knot Intermediate and Whitley City Elementary saw some drops in scores.
“We are pleased and encouraged with the overall results,” McCreary County Schools Superintendent Michael Cash said Wednesday. “For the first time under the Unbridled Learning Assessment System we have two schools classified as Distinguished.” “Overall the District is classified as Proficient for the second year in a row,” he added. “Prior to that the District was classified as a Needs Improvement District.” Cash said a shift from focusing on a group of students to an individual basis has helped install a “positive learning environment” and the result can be seen in the gains at both PKP and the High School. As for the three schools that saw a drop in scores, Cash said those schools only missed a higher classification by a small margin. “Those three schools only missed being a proficient school by a combined 6.1 points,” he said. “That boils down to about three to five students improving at each of those schools, and we are pushing forward with some new initiatives district-wide. Our goal for next year is to be a Distinguished School District.”
Pine Knot Primary School saw the biggest gain in overall scores, jumping 10.4 points to 82.4. That score earned the school not only a Distinguished and Progressing designation, it also placed the school among the top five-percent of elementary schools in the state and is considered a School of Distinction. Scores at PKP rose 10.4 points to 82.4, with more than half of students testing near or above state averages in Reading and Math. 58.2 percent tested at the proficient and distinguished level in reading and 57.8 percent in math. Three years ago the school was classified as needing improvement and a focus school, but Cash stated the school staff and District leadership put a strong emphasis on making improvements, and the results are evidence that positive change happened.
McCreary Central High School saw a gain of 6.8 points for an overall score of 77.1, earning the Distinguished designation, and fell just .6 of a point away from being named a School of Distinction. This marked a big improvement for the school, as several years ago MCHS was listed in the bottom 20 of high schools in the state, and was considered a needs improvement and focus school last year. The only metric where the school failed to meet a goal was in graduation rate. The school’s rate of 92.4 percent is higher than the state average of 89.7 percent, but fell just short of the target. “Graduation rate is difficult for districts to obtain, and even the state failed to meet their goal,” Cash said. “Because graduation data is lagged one year, the graduation data reported was for the 2014-15 school year. Improvements in the graduation rate are expected on the report card next fall.” More than 66 percent of graduates in the past year were certified as college or career ready, a major component of the assessment process, just below the state average of 68.5.
Pine Knot Intermediate, which for the past two years had been designated a School of Distinction, saw the biggest drop in overall score and is now considered as “needs improvement.” Scores fell from 81.7 last year to 66.1, a 15.6-point drop, however content scores still rank as some of the highest in the District. PKI’s content scores still rank near or above state averages in all five content areas. More than half of all students tested at proficient and distinguished levels in four categories, Reading, Math, Social Studies and Writing, while 49.8 percent tested at that level in Language Mechanics. To regain their lofty scores, PKI has already implemented changes, such as adding corrective reading and increased MAPS testing.
McCreary Middle saw a slight drop in overall scores, falling 2.7 points to 62.0, and is considered a needs improvement school as well. More than 53 percent of students tested at proficient or distinguished in Social Studies, 44.7 in Reading, 34.2 in Math and 31.2 in Writing last year. The school has also implemented a strategic plan to identify trouble areas and focus on student achievement.
Whitley City Elementary saw overall scores of 66.1, a drop of 3.6 points from last year and is considered a needs improvement school. Proficient and distinguished scores in three content areas, Social Studies, Writing and Language Mechanics were over 50 percent, with scores in Reading and Math at 42.5 percent and 33.2 percent respectively.
Schools and districts earned points on a scale of 0 to 100 based on how well they did on five Next-Generation Learner components: achievement, gap, growth, college/career readiness and graduation rate.
This is the last year for Unbridled Learning, which will be phased out and replaced with a new accountability system being created as a result of Congress’ reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in December 2016. The new law, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), gives states more flexibility and provides state and local control over the accountability process.