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State assessment data reveals success, opportunities for LaRue County Schools

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Information released at noon on Thursday, September 28 by Heartland Communications Consultants

LaRue County Schools is celebrating academic gains and continuing to develop plans for improvement after the Kentucky Department of Education on Thursday released data from 2016-17 statewide assessments.

Schools and districts across Kentucky are beginning a three-year transition to a new accountability system under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act and Kentucky’s 2017 Senate Bill 1. One change the LaRue County community may notice, for example, is that overall scores are not reported for schools and districts, meaning rankings are not possible based on the 2016-17 data. In addition, school- and district-level labels such as distinguished are not used.

“We want our entire community to take pride in the incredible work our students, teachers and administrators are doing every day,” said superintendent Sam Sanders. “While continuous improvement is always our priority at LaRue County Schools, it’s important that we applaud the academic gains our students have made.”

Elementary and middle schools received scores for achievement, growth and gap. Achievement measures student performance in reading, math, social studies and writing. The growth score determines the level of growth in reading and math by comparing individual student scores to those of their academic peers. Gap assesses the performance of students who are members of historically underperforming groups including free and reduced lunch and special education.

LaRue County Middle School’s achievement score increased 1.3 points to 79.2, nearly 11 points higher than the statewide score. The school made gains in reading, social studies and writing.

“We are always proud of the effort of the students and staff at LCMS,” said principal Jason Detre. “We are going to celebrate the accomplishments within the data and will work hard to improve in all areas.”

Though Hodgenville Elementary School’s overall achievement score dropped 2.5 points, principal Eric Hughes noted, the school realized a 7.4 point increase in math and performed higher than statewide scores in every area.

“We had some huge gains in last year’s data, so while we have several areas that have dropped off in terms of points, we are still able to see positive trends over time,” he said. “I’m proud of the work put in by both students and staff.”

At Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, the social studies score climbed 2.1 points while other areas decreased.

“Our mission is to prepare our students to be successful now, in middle school and beyond,” ALES principal Karen Downs said. “The new data is an opportunity for us to dig into our practices, both academically and for the whole child, and pinpoint how we will improve.”

In addition to achievement and gap categories, high schools received scores for graduation rate and college and career readiness as well. In addition to the content areas tested in elementary and middle schools, high schools were tested in science.

LaRue County High School principal Denise Skaggs noted dramatic improvements in the school’s gap score, which includes the school’s novice reduction score. This represents the reduction of reading and math novice scores in gap groups. Novice is the lowest of four possible scores. The others are apprentice, proficient and distinguished.

“I’m very proud of our staff and students,” Skaggs said. “Our staff received training on novice reduction strategies, and we know the implementation of those strategies made a difference for our students.”

LaRue County Schools has performed well for years in part because staff carefully analyzes student-level data from statewide assessments and other tests, said Assistant Superintendent for Student Achievement Amanda Reed.

“Our analysis is already underway, and we will develop improvement plans that focus on meeting individual students where they are and providing what they need to succeed,” she said.