Unbridled Learning Results: LaRue Schools on top

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Special to The LaRue County Herald News

By Ron Benningfield

LaRue County Schools placed in the top eight percent of Kentucky’s 174 school districts on the Unbridled Learning for All Assessment and Accountability System results released Sept. 27.

“Ranking 14th in the state is an outstanding accomplishment, and moving into the top 10 percent in the state validates everyone’s hard work,” said Sam Sanders, LaRue County Schools’ superintendent. “I’d like to thank our students, staff, board members, and the entire LaRue County community for their hard work and dedication.”

The district’s overall score, on a scale of 0-100, lay at 65.7, up from last year’s 63.1, giving it a Distinguished rating, the highest of three rating categories.

The district’s high and middle schools also were rated Distinguished, given to schools performing at the 90-99th percentile rank.

“I am so impressed with how each school is working together to keep pushing all kids forward,” said Amanda Reed, assistant superintendent for student achievement and district assessment coordinator. “Our schools are never satisfied with good enough; it has become a culture of ‘whatever it takes’ to meet each and every child’s needs.”

LCHS attained an overall score of 68.2, based on five categories: academic achievement, college and career readiness, graduation rates, amount of student growth when compared to peers in reading and math, and gap (proficiency of student groups including ethnicity/race, special education, free/reduced meals, and limited English proficiency).  

The 2013 score surpassed the school’s annual measurable objective of 64.8 and an overall score of 64.3 attained in 2012 in the first year of the Unbridled Learning assessment.

“I am very proud of the hard work and effort our students and faculty put into attaining the status of a distinguished school,” said Kyle Goodlett, LCHS principal.

Though falling below its annual measurable objective score of 66.2, LaRue County Middle School’s overall score of 65.5 placed it at the 90th percentile for its second consecutive Distinguished rating.

“We are proud of the efforts of our students and the work of our teachers and support staff that put in countless hours working with the children of our community,” said Principal Jason Detre. “We truly have a team of dedicated staff that put children first.”

Detre was especially proud of the school’s academic growth in reading, science and mathematics.

“In particular we are extremely excited about our performance on the Explore (accountability assessment given to eighth grade students), which indicates our students’ preparedness for college and career readiness,” he said.

The middle school’s accountability scores come from four areas – achievement, gap, growth and college and career readiness.

Hodgenville Elementary School’s overall score climbed from 59.3 in 2012 to 64.7 in 2013, elevating it to the 78th percentile as a Proficient and Progressing school (70th to 89th percentile).  

Progressing is an additional designation that is added to a school or district performance classification to indicate that the school has met its yearly objective and participation rate for all student groups.  HES’s annual objective for 2013 was 60.3.

“Our results confirm that we’re on the right track with what we’re doing to help our students be successful,” Sue Osborne, HES principal, said. “We’re getting more comfortable with the new standards and have adjusted instruction to reflect their rigor and depth.”

Osborne said the school’s teachers help students self-assess and monitor their learning progress as well as set goals for themselves throughout the year.

“We made writing a focus area and began integrating writing into all areas of the curriculum,” she added. “Our students are becoming better thinkers through their writing.”

Abraham Lincoln Elementary School’s overall score of 62.2 surpassed its annual objective by two-tenths of a point, giving it a Progressing classification.  

It’s 69th percentile ranking lay in the Needs Improvement category (below 70th percentile).

“The teachers are continuously striving to find ways to engage students and to ensure their success,” said Karen Downs, ALES principal.  

The area with the strongest growth was writing, which improved 17.3 percent with more students scoring at the proficient and the distinguished level.

“This is an area that we spent time on as a whole school,” said Downs. “Every student was involved in school-wide writing prompts with the teachers collaboratively scoring the pieces to ensure that areas of growth were identified, then focused on during instruction.”

The school’s gap score improved by 7.3 percent over the previous year.

“We have begun the year very focused on the common core standards and looking for ways to individualize learning to meet the needs of each student,” said Downs.  “With our continued focus and the dedication of a wonderful staff, I feel that ALES will continue to improve academically.”

Elementary schools are measured on achievement, gap, and growth.

Terry Holliday, Kentucky’s education commissioner, said schools across the state are making progress, though at a slower pace than he would like to see.

“In just three years we’ve gone from only a third of our students being ready for college and career to more than half,” said Holliday. “That’s about 8,000 students who now have a much better shot at getting a good job, paying taxes, and becoming self-sufficient Kentuckians.”

This was originally submitted as an Educating LaRue County column.