While Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) aren't failing by any means, more work must be done to reach the honor roll. (Source: WAVE 3 News archives)
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Yearly report cards have been handed out for Kentucky schools. While Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) aren't failing by any means, more work must be done to reach the honor roll.
Just after midnight on Oct. 1, the state Department of Education released its Unbridled Learning test results.
Numbers for JCPS, the largest school district in the commonwealth, were similar to overall state numbers, showing gains in most areas but still short of the yearly progress goal known as an annual measurable objective (AMO). The most notable decline occurred at the middle school level, both in Jefferson County and statewide.
Kentucky missed its annual AMO goal by 0.1. JCPS missed its mark by 0.7 but had a higher standard. Schools and districts under the 70th percentile, the benchmark for the proficient label, shoot for a full-point gain (JCPS gained 0.3), while those above that mark, including the state, aim for a 0.5 mark (the state average rose 0.4).
School leaders caution that there is a ceiling to year-after-year gains that ultimately plateau. The goal then becomes to maintain the success rate, as can be seen at JCPS high-earner schools including Brown, Louisville Male, Barrett Middle and Greathouse Shryock Elementary, among others that scored in the top percentile.
"None of the data is surprising to us," said Dewey Hensley, JCPS chief academic officer. He added the district's top goal is closing the achievement gap that exists on racial and economic lines. "We have a long way to go. Absolutely no doubt about that."
Shawnee and Valley High Schools made gains for the third straight year, as five JCPS priority schools met or exceeded yearly goals.
Waggener High School exited priority status and Fern Creek High scored well enough that it will challenge, with a recall of sorts, to see if it can do the same.
Three JCPS schools entered priority status: Byck and Roosevelt Perry Elementary Schools and Moore Traditional Middle School.
Graduation rates and career-college readiness numbers also gained in 2015, both at JCPS and in Kentucky in general, but neither met its graduation-rate goal.
That also was true in Louisville's largest suburban school districts; however, they too made gains. Bullitt and Hardin Counties scored proficient, putting them in the top 70 percentile, while Oldham County scored distinguished, putting it in the top 90.
Oldham met its 0.5 score-improvement goal. Hardin missed by 0.6, while Bullitt smashed the mark with a score 1.6 above its goal. The results marked the first time that all three Bullitt high schools made the proficient mark, while Bullitt East was named a school of distinction.
The middle school score dip is a statewide challenge, Hensley said, with the Kentucky teachers working in groups with regional-level education leaders to identify solutions.
Nearly three quarters of JCPS middle schools are below the proficient mark, and most of those fall below the 50th percentile. More than one-third scored in the bottom fifth of the state.
The low percentiles happen less at the high school and elementary school level. Only three-fifths of the high schools are below proficient, roughly same as the elementaries, with 90 percent of those schools scoring above the bottom fifth.
Hensley pointed out a large part of the JCPS five-step program for school improvement is "naming and claiming" students - knowing which children need extra help, for instance, learning to read functionally by third grade.
District leaders stress that there are distinguished students at every JCPS school and that any student can succeed no matter the score of a particular school, which JCPS uses only as one part of how it evaluates performance.
"We're now trying to put in place one 13-year program," Hensley said, "instead of 13 one-year programs."
You can see test results for districts and schools across the state by clicking here.