• By Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Woodford schools earn 3-, 4-Star ratings in assessment

Northside Elementary, Woodford County Middle School and Woodford County High School each earned a 4-Star rating in the state’s new accountability system while the district’s three other elementary schools earned 3-Star ratings, according to results released Tuesday by the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE). The overall score at WCMS was high enough (74.6) to earn a 5-Star rating, but its rating was reduced to 4 Stars because of achievement gaps in two student sub-groups. Only 12 middle schools in Kentucky attained 5-Star ratings, the KDE news release stated. Woodford County schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins on Tuesday lauded the work by teachers at WCMS to raise student achievement levels in recent years and noted Principal Tracy Bruno has already asked for more statistical breakdowns of the sub-groups to attack the middle school’s achievement gaps. “That’s been his approach all along is, ‘how do we get better?’ And again, I think, the middle school is certainly doing some great things,” said Hawkins. He pointed out middle schools are the only schools where every student participated in the testing to determine an overall score, which “tells you that you’ve got a lot of great things happening every day in those classrooms.” One of the early takeaways from the testing data, according to Hawkins, is the need – particularly at the elementary level – to reduce the number of students scoring at the apprentice level. “Obviously, we want every student to be proficient or distinguished,” he said. “So what steps can we (take) to move those students on up to the next level?” Hawkins said WCMS and Northside Elementary School, which earned an overall score of 76 (falling just short of the 79 needed to earn a 5-Star rating), have both done a good job of putting structures and systems – such as professional learning communities (PLCs) – in place to ensure students are able to achieve at high levels in the state assessment. “Their results,” he said, “bear that out.” “Now,” he added, “it’s working alongside all of our other schools to say, ‘Okay, where can we get stronger in those areas?’” He said research-based structures like PLCs have shown results to improve student achievement. “The foundational piece to it all,” explained Hawkins, “is the professional learning community because that’s putting our teachers working together to focus on how we move student achievement forward.” He described PLCs as an opportunity for teachers to improve daily instruction. WCHS earned an overall score of 76.9 for its 4-Star rating, while Huntertown (67.4), Simmons (68) and Southside (70) were among 364 elementary schools across the state to earn 3-Star ratings. Hawkins acknowledged that he would’ve liked to have seen those elementary schools earn a 4- or 5-Star rating, but said “we’re in a position … if we do some things a little better, we can get there. So I’m very confident in that.” He said WCHS can improve its results in terms of transition readiness for students, but academic indicators in reading and math as well as graduation rates are positive takeaways from the state assessment, which awarded seven Kentucky high schools and a total of 56 schools overall with a 5-Star rating. “We’re happy with our overall improvement,” said Woodford County schools Chief Academic Officer Jimmy Brehm in a district news release, “but we want to look deeper to see how we can get all students to perform at their highest levels.”

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