floydcountytimes.com

Schools take step back under new test model

Ralph B. DavisManaging Editor

November 1, 2012

School administrators say they are concerned about Floyd County’s showing in the most recent round of state testing, but add that they now have information which allow the district to move forward.


“Overall, we’ve got some bright spots and we’ve got some areas of concern,” Superintendent Henry Webb said Thursday.


The results, released today, are the first to be released under new guidelines for assessing school performance. As a result of the new rules, Webb said schools statewide took a step backward, but he conceded that Floyd County didn’t keep pace with some other districts.


The new model — dubbed the Unbridled Learning accountability model — includes “student achievement growth measures, emphasis on college and career readiness, high school graduation rates, student achievement in five content areas and an increased focus on the lowest-performing schools,” according to a statement released by the district.


“We were challenged with a new accountability system, new cut scores and new standards in reading and mathematics, and while we have pockets of excellence, we didn’t meet that challenge as a district,” Webb said. “We are a district that needs improvement, and we are taking steps to address any and all areas of concern in curriculum, instruction and assessment.”


But Webb said that even under the new rules, some familiar patterns emerged.


“Our elementary schools outperformed the state in most areas,” Webb said. “Our middle schools outperformed the state in some areas, and our high schools still need improvement.”


Webb singled out May Valley Elementary and Osborne Elementary for having an exceptional showing on the assessment.


“Once again, May Valley is one of the top elementary schools in the state of Kentucky, and one of only 40 deemed a ‘School of Distinction,’” Webb said. “And this year shows Osborne Elementary to have moved from being in the top half of elementary schools in the state, to being in the top 15 percent, and that places them one of 37 elementary schools in the category of ‘Highest Performing School.’”


Webb also noted that McDowell Elementary, Allen Central Middle School and the middle-school grades at Betsy Layne Elementary joined May Valley and Osborne as the five Floyd County schools to have reached “proficient” status, meaning they scored in the top 30 percent statewide.


On the flip side, Prestonsburg High School and South Floyd High School were identified as “focus schools,” meaning they will receive increased attention from administrators in an attempt to close some gaps in instruction.


“It means exactly what it says,” Webb said. “They are going to get some intensive focus.”


Webb said Floyd County, as a district, placed seventh out of 19 school districts in its region.


Going forward, Webb said the district will work to align its curriculum with state and national standards, provide high-quality professional development in areas of instruction, use a District-Wide Intervention Model to address needs of students and schools, and implement a “name and claim” system of working with each student to individually identify steps needed to ensure all students are ready for careers or college.


Webb said that pursuing that agenda will allow the district to meet its goal of having 65 percent of students college- or career-ready by 2015. The number today is 30 percent.


“These results tell us how we are doing for our kids and where we need to improve,” Webb said. “Our commitment is to make sure that every child in Floyd County schools is college- and career-ready when they graduate and prepared for postsecondary opportunities, and we will reach that goal for our kids.”