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LaRue schools celebrate No Child Left Behind scores

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District meets all targets

By Ron Benningfield

LaRue County Schools’ administrators and staff are elated over the district’s No Child Left Behind scores released yesterday.

For the second straight year, the district met all targets on the nationally mandated assessment that measures annual progress in reading and math.

“The students, parents, staff, board and entire community are to be commended for this accomplishment,” said Sam Sanders, superintendent. “We have come a long way.”

Sanders referred to the distance the district has traveled since 2002 when the LaRue County showed the largest gap in scores in the state between regular and disability population.

“Everyone has worked diligently to close the gap,” he said. “We still have work to do, but meeting all NCLB goals for the second year in a row certainly validates our effort.”

The NCLB assesses the percentage of students scoring proficient or above in reading and math and performance on other indicators – CATS (statewide assessment) scores for elementary and middle schools, graduation rate for high school. The test mandates adequate yearly progress in subgroups as well, including minority students, low-income students, students with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency.

Amanda Reed, the district’s instructional supervisor, said the percent proficient in math increased at all grade levels ranging from six to 10 percent over last year.

“LaRue County High School saw gains in reading, but our other schools stayed about the same or dropped a little,” Reed said. “We are thrilled that we met all of our targets as a district this year and have made it out of Tiers of Consequences.”

With that said, Reed cautioned, “We can’t breathe too easy, given that the targets will all go up again for 2008-09. We will celebrate for a few days, but then we have to take a close look at reading.”

Schools failing to show adequate progress for two or more consecutive years fall into various tiers of school improvement status. Two years ago, LaRue County was in Tier Three.  

“In the past, we have struggled with the performance of our disability students,” said Reed. “We met our targets last year which meant we held steady in Tier Three, and now that we’ve made it for two consecutive years, we’re out of tier system completely.”

All district schools met their goals except for LaRue County Middle School in reading for students with disabilities. Compared to last year’s results among sub groups, sixth, seventh and eighth grade scores in reading were up 2.5 percent for free/reduced lunch (FRL) students though scores for students with disabilities dropped six percent.

Reed listed the following results for individual schools compared to last year for sub groups:

Reading

Abraham Lincoln Elementary: dropped 12.5 percent for students with disabilities; Hodgenville Elementary: 3-4 percent drop for All, White, and FRL; no disability data – not enough students; LCMS: five percent rise in FRL; dropped 4.7 percent in disability; LCHS: three percent gain for All and White students; 13 percent gain for FRL; no disability data – not enough students.

Math

District math comparison to last year showed a 7-9 percent increase among all subgroups.

Individually, ALES:  10 percent gain in All, White, and FRL; 7.5 percent gain in Disability; HES: eight percent increase in All and White; 11.7 gain in FRL; no Disability data – not enough students; LCMS: 7.6-10.3 percent increase among all subgroups; LCHS – six percent gain for All and White; three percent decrease for FRL; no Disability data – not enough students.

“I am so proud of our staff and students,” Reed said. “It truly has been a team effort to achieve the improvements we have made in the past few years.”

Reed said schools have set up academic structures that will continue to help them well into the future.

“It’s difficult to get change started, but now that these structures are in place, we should continue to see growth.”

The district has emphasized math the past two years with teachers participating in professional development targeting developing number sense at an early age. Teachers developed common assessments that were given throughout the year to check the level of the students’ understanding of the instruction they were receiving.

“We tracked performance on these assessments and provided interventions to help struggling students,” Reed said. “All of our schools are now using their ESS (extended school services) funds to provide additional help to students during school hours in reading and math.”

Students also took online tests that predicted how they would perform on the CATS and NCLB assessments.

“Teachers used these results to pinpoint specific content where students were struggling,” Reed continued. “The program also has a bank of practice questions teachers can use to piece together their own assessments.”

Reed credited tracking student performance, identifying students in need of assistance, and providing appropriate interventions for helping the students move forward.