LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – The Kentucky Department of Education has released its state test scores and district report cards for the 2016-2017 school year.
Jefferson County Public School's scores dropped from the 2015-2016 school year in elementary and high school reading and math.
The district shows a combined 44.5 students scoring proficient and distinguished in reading and math while middle school students made small gains.
The Good: Graduation rates continue to improve. The five-year graduation rate for JCPS students increased from 81.5 to 82.7. The four-year graduation rate increased from 80.1 to 80.6; the percentage of JCPS students in college is also higher than the state average. Middle school test scores are also making small gains from the prior year in reading and math proficiency.
The Not So Good: Scores in reading and math are down from last year. 44.5 percent of JCPS students are scoring proficient and distinguished in reading and math. Fifty-seven percent of students are considered college and career ready which is a drop from the prior year and also the first time in several years the CCR score has dropped. The achievement score widened among most student groups with "Homeless," "African-American" students, "English Learners" and "Disability" students seeing some of the lowest percentages of proficient and distinguished in reading and math.
Only 44.9 percent of elementary school students and 38.8 percent of middle school students are proficient in math, which is a trend also reflected in the entire state. Kentucky Department of Education Commission, Dr. Pruitt said KDE is working on making Algebra and other math curricula consistent across the state to help get students on track.
Safety and Security: For the 2016-2017 data: 21,822 students were suspended out of school and 207 students were arrested. In the year prior, there were 19,532 out of school suspensions, 123 students arrested, there were 4,134 restraint incidents.
At a web conference on Tuesday afternoon, Kentucky Commissioner of Education Dr. Stephen Pruitt said the results are a "mixed bag" and "relatively flat."Dr. Pruitt suspects the results could be flat because of the outdated accountability model and schools who have gotten used to the method of testing. It's just one of many reasons, Pruitt said the state is ditching the "Unbridled Learning" accountability system and planning to move to another "star" rating system next year. Pruitt said the move is an effort to allow teachers to help develop new state assessments and focus on student achievement as opposed to constant testing.
As far as Jefferson County Public Schools, Dr. Pruitt said he does have concerns about JCPS dropping in reading and math scores but believes the scores can be turned around.
"Jefferson County needs to have a hard conversation about scores that saw a decrease in numbers," Pruitt said, addressing the media in a webcast on Tuesday.
Pruitt said he is encouraged by the direction in which JCPS is heading and said new leadership (Acting Superintendent Marty Pollio and new hires) could have a positive impact on overall achievement in Jefferson County.
On Wednesday, Dr. Pollio responded to the Commissioners concern to the scores and widening the achievement gap.
"It's definitely a concern of the district. Both groups, white students and minorities students groups went down in proficiency back to levels of 2015 "so I share Commissioner Pruitt's concern on that," Pollio said. "The drop was a little greater, slightly greater I should say for African American students so we did see a slight expansion of that gap which is the wrong way we want to go."
Pollio said the launch of two initiatives will help the district achieve gains in these scores and help close the achievement gap. A universal screener test, which the district has invested more than a million dollars in; it's already in use at some schools. The assessment is taken three times a year and helps teachers customize instruction and personalize learning for students based on the results of the screen. This way, teachers are targeting exactly what needs to be improved upon in learning for specific students. The universal screener will be given to elementary and middle school students and its results will be available to parents and teachers.
"We can now track our kids in reading and math proficiency," Pollio said. "I have no doubt this will help improve outcomes for all schools and students."
To view the results of the state report card, click here.