State test scores up sharply

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Southside has huge jump; district achieves ‘proficient’

By Todd Martin

There were several smiling faces throughout Shelby County Public Schools on Wednesday morning when the district received its Unbridled Learning Accountability System report card.

The district saw its ranking in Kentucky improve by 21 percentile points, up to the 77th percent out of 174 school districts, earning it the classification of Proficient and Progressing.

Leading the charge was Southside Elementary School, which earned the distinction of being named a High Progressing school after finishing in the 71st percentile this year, up from the 14th percentile last year.

High Progressing means the school was in the top 10 percent of the state in improvement. Southside also was one of four schools in the district to earn Proficient and Progressing. West Middle has the highest-ranking in the district, at the 78th percentile. Wright Elementary’s rank is 76th percentile, and Collins High School is 75th.

All four improved on their scores from last year. Wright and West Middle earned Proficient status last year, as well.

“We made tremendous progress this year,” Superintendent James Neihof said in a release. “We’re proud of our students and teachers. They have worked hard, and the district scores reflect their effort.”

Southside Principal Susie Burkhardt credited a team effort for her school’s big jump.

“Every person in the school – kids adults, teachers, administrators – everyone worked together. When we were listed in the 14th percentile last year, we were blown away. We knew we were working really hard. Instead of hanging our heads, we took a different approach this yea. We focused on some key pieces and became really intentional about them.”

And Lisa Smith, the district’s deputy superintendent drew that same comparison for the district’s big jump, as well.

Lisa Smith, the deputy superintendent, noted how the district worked together.

“Everyone contributed to this score,” she said. “We obviously had some scores higher than others, but as you go through the data, you can see that there are things to be very proud of at each school.”

The rest of the schools fell into the Needs Improvement category. The third ranking category is Distinguished for the top schools. No Shelby County school earned a Distinguished score.

But eight of the 10 schools in the district did show improvement. Only Painted Stone and Simpsonville elementary schools didn’t improve. Both were proficient last year.

While Smith said there are four areas that the she’s identified as leading to the district’s growth – curriculum alignment, instructional practices, professional learning communities and non-fiction writing – it’s writing that saw some of the biggest improvements.

“We saw growth across the district in writing, and I think that’s because we’ve made a commitment to doing an extraordinary amount of non-fiction writing. That was an area where we struggled last year and our scores were not where we thought they should be. Now, if you’re teaching math or science or anything in your classroom you’re looking for a way to get writing involved. This year our high schools scored the highest in writing, and that’s where we had the most growth.”

The goal for the district now is boil down these scores see how they can help students.

“What we have here is effect data,” Smith said. “Now we need to find the cause data. What are some of our schools, teachers or students doing differently that caused them to score higher. We had three schools post max scores in Science [West, Heritage and Wright]. What are they doing that’s maybe a little different? Can we replicate that at other schools or refine it work in other classrooms or use the methods in other subjects? That’s how we use this data and where we go from here.”


Elementary schools

Elementary schools are scored in three categories – Achievement, Gap and Growth

Southside had the biggest jump, moving from the 14th percentile to the 71st percentile.

The schools scores along with the district and state scores are:

  • Clear Creek: Achievement 23.1, Gap 14.1, Growth: 25.
  • Heritage: Achievement 21.8, Gap 14.1, Growth: 25.
  • Painted Stone: Achievement 22, Gap 13.4, Growth: 24.9.
  • Simpsonville: Achievement 24.3, Gap 11.6, Growth: 26.0.
  • Southside: Achievement 21.5, Gap 13.3, Growth 28.1.
  • Wright: Achievement 22.5, Gap 14.5, Growth 27.3.
  • District: Achievement 22.5, Gap 13.5, Growth 25.8.
  • State: Achievement 21, Gap 12.6, Growth 24.


Middle schools

Shelby County’s middle school scores were a little easier to understand this year with a change in the scoring standards. Last year the district had to split the eighth-grade classes at Collins and Shelby County high schools into their own schools. This year the grades are added to West and East middle schools, respectively.

Middle-school scores include Achievement, Gap and Growth, like elementary schools, but also add a College and Career Ready component.

The schools scores along with the district and state scores are:

  • East: Achievement 19.2, Gap 10.6, Growth 15.9, CCR 7.5.
  • West: Achievement 22.0, Gap 13.4, Growth 17.4, CCR 7.9.
  • District: Achievement 20.8, Gap 12, Growth 16.7, CCR 7.7
  • State: Achievement 19.3, Gap 11.2, Growth 16.8, CCR 7.6


High schools

At the high school level, the district saw improved results at both schools, with Collins improving up to Proficient and Shelby County showing even more growth, moving by 15 percent, but coming up short of proficient.

The 2012 schools scores along with the district and state scores are:

  • Collins: Achievement 12.3, Gap 5.7, Growth 11.1, CCR 13.7, Grad Rate 16.9.
  • SCHS: Achievement 11.2, Gap 5.3, Growth 11.7, CCR 12.1, Grad Rate 16.9.
  • District: Achievement 11.8, Gap 5.5, Growth 11.4, CCR 12.8, Grad Rate 16.9.
  • State: Achievement 12.1, Gap 6.7, Growth 11.4, CCR 12.1, Grad Rate 17.2


The scoring system

The Next-Generation Learners system uses several different components to measure a district and school’s overall performance. Elementary schools are graded 30 percent on Achievement, 30 percent on Gap and 40 percent on Growth; middle schools are graded on 28 percent Achievement, 28 percent Gap, 28 percent Growth and 16 percent College and Career Ready; and high schools are graded with 20 percent in each category of Achievement, Gap, Growth, College and Career Ready and Graduation Rate.

  • Achievement: 1 point for every percent of students scoring proficient or distinguished. Bonus: Half point for every distinguished student, negative half point for every novice.
  • Gap: an aggregate count of student groups that have historically had achievement gaps –  African American, Hispanic, Native American, Disability, Free/Reduced Lunch and Limited English Proficiency. To yield a single gap number of proficient and/or distinguished students, the state factored for non-duplicated counts, so students are not counted several times in different gap groups. The score is a non-duplicated sum of students who score proficient or distinguished in the groups.
  • Growth: Elementary/Middle schools: Schools receive one point for each percent of students showing typical or high growth in reading and math where yearly testing occurs. High school: Schools are awarded points for the percentage of students showing growth on the PLAN test (10th grade) and the ACT (11th grade).
  • College and Career Ready:Middle school: score is based on the percentage of students meeting the ACT-established benchmarks on the EXPLORE test, which is given in eighth grade. High school: Scores include the number of students meeting state standards on the ACT, meeting standards on other state-approved college placement tests (including KYOTE and COMPASS), and meeting career ready standards including KOSSA or industry-recognized career certificates.
  • Graduation Rate:Calculated by using the Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR), which is calculated using the number of current year graduates with a diploma earned in four years, the graduates with diplomas in four or more years, the four-year previous ninth grade enrollment and the three-year prior enrollment. Students with disabilities whose Individual Education Plans enable them to take more than four years to obtain a diploma are included in this calculation.


Where Shelby’s schools rank

Shelby County Public Schools rankings by percentile in the state’s Unbridled Learning Accountability Model, cover a wide range. The rankings are set by percentile and range from 1 to 99, being the best. Because they are ranked by percentile, several schools and districts can hold the same ranking. Eighth-graders at Shelby County and Collins high schools are included with East and West middle schools, respectively. SCPS’s ranking is up 21 percent from last year, earning it a Proficient grade, and eight of 10 schools saw their rankings improve. Southside led the way with an amazing 51 percentage-point increase, earning it the distinction of High Progressing, which means it is in the top 10 percent of improving schools. Two schools, Painted Stone and Simpsonville elementary schools, saw their numbers decrease. Both were Proficient schools last year.

Listed: school — percentile rank, Classification

District — 77, Proficient/Progressing

Clear Creek Elementary — 69, Needs Improvement

Heritage Elementary — 63, Needs Improvement/Progressing

Painted Stone Elementary — 60, Needs Improvement

Simpsonville Elementary — 67, Needs Improvement

Southside Elementary — 71, Proficient/High Progressing

Wright Elementary — 76, Proficient/Progressing

East Middle — 46, Needs Improvement/Progressing

West Middle — 78, Proficient/Progressing

Collins High — 75, Proficient/Progressing

Shelby County High — 64, Needs Improvement