CATS results show 'exemplary' growth

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LaRue schools meet or exceed goals

By Ron Benningfield

Every LaRue County public school either met its two-year CATS (state accountability assessment) goal or is progressing toward it without any sanctions according to information released today by the Kentucky Department of Education.

The school system has been designated an “exemplary growth district.”

“Our students, staff and community should be proud,” Sam Sanders, superintendent said. “This is the highest CATS ranking the district has held, and, really, I believe we will continue to climb. Tomorrow is looking great.”

Both district elementary schools scored above their two-year accountability index goals. Hodgenville (88.1) was 5.3 points above it goal of 82.8. Abraham Lincoln Elementary also surpassed its goal of 85.7 by notching an 86.7.

All schools in the state are expected to have accountability indices of 100 or above by 2014. These indices measure academic plus non-academic indicators of success such as attendance and retention rates.

District instructional supervisor Amanda Reed said, “Oh, yes, I am pleased, for not only did we show consistent growth in most areas, all schools also met their Novice (the lowest scores on the assessment) reduction requirement.”

She was also pleased with the increase both elementaries showed over last year in their math indices, which surpassed 100.

“Our math gain has been a significant turn upward over the past two years,” said Reed who credited the schools’ focus on teaching strategies and professional development.


Hodgenville’s math index was 106.6, nine points better than the previous year.

Penny Cecil, Hodgenville principal, said, “I am so proud of our growth in math. Teachers and support staff have stepped up to the plate and worked really hard to raise the bar in this area.”

Cecil said the entire staff was “very intentional and focused in instruction to give our students a strong mathematics foundation.”

ALES’ math index of 102.9 was up 10 points from 2007. That school scored 100.4 in science, a gain of 16.9 points over the previous year. Its biggest gain, however, was in practical living where the totals jumped 18.2 points in one year to 92.4.

Amber Thurman, ALES principal, attributed the increase in math to “intentional hard work of the teachers and central office staff in implementing a balanced math program.”

“Lots of training and commitment went into strengthening our program. Students are using more manipulatives, writing about math, and using specific problem-solving strategies in the classroom.”

“We have begun a new prevention/intervention program to help build number foundations so we are anticipating even more academic growth,” she added.

She also praised students and staff for the other academic gains. “Overall, our students outscored the state in the areas of reading, math, science, and practical living/vocational studies, “she noted.

Middle school

LaRue County Middle School’s 79.5 Accountability Index fell three points short of its two-year goal (82.5), placing the school in the Progressing range. Progressing schools are held harmless in the accountability system if they continue to demonstrate growth.

The middle school’s accountability index rose 1.2 points from the previous year (78.9 to 80.1). The school registered an 11-point gain in science (from 81.8 to 92.9) and rose 15.4 points in Practical Living, from 82.6 in 2007 to 98.0 in ’08. In math, middle school students jumped from 84.4 to 91.1.

“I’m very proud of the progress that we’re making with our CATS results,” LCMS principal Corey Keith said. “We are on track to make our goal of 100 by 2014, and I really believe that we’ll make it well before that time.”

Keith credited students and staff for the improvement.

“I am blessed to work with an outstanding group of people,” he commented. “I commend them for all of their hard work, and our students have also risen to the challenges that we’ve set before them.”

High school

LaRue County High School missed its Accountability Index biennium goal of 83.6 by only eight-tenths of one point, scoring 82.8, which meant it is also a Progressing school.

LCHS showed the biggest one-year gain of any district school, a 4.6-point increase in its accountability index, from 80.5 to 85.1.

“We set our goals high, and I am pleased with the 4.6-point gain,” Paul Mullins, LCHS principal, said. “We showed a lot of growth and just about hit our two-year goal.”

The school’s writing portfolio scores rose 11.3 points from 76.0 in 2007 to 87.3. Its on-demand writing scores jumped 28.4 points in one year, from 49.9 to 78.3.

“The school was ahead of the state average in every academic area,” said Reed. She said staff at the district and school level will analyze the large gains to come up with strategies that will raise scores in the other subject assessments.

Adjusted scores

Because of multiple changes to the assessment and accountability program in the 2007-08 biennium, adjustments were made to the Accountability Indices to link 2007-08 scores to the old CATS (2000-2006) for continuity of accountability. These scores are used as the final scores for accountability.

Nonadjusted scores, however, show the current position of a school or district compared to its goal of 100 by 2014. The nonadjusted scores, which give an instructional look at where the schools are on the road to proficiency, were higher than the adjusted (concordant) scores for all district schools but the high school.

“For example,” said Reed, “ALES’s nonadjusted Accountability Index was 93.1, but the linking process lowered it to 88.9.” Hodgenville’s actual score was 91.2 with the concordant score 87.6; LCMS: real score 87.3; concordant score 80.1; and LCHS real score 84.4; concordant score 85.1.”

The concordance process is an interim accountability procedure that will not be necessary after the 2007-08 biennium.