Henderson County Schools Superintendent Dr. Bob Lawson says the results of Kentucky Summative Assessment test scores released at the end of October are reason to celebrate.
Each year, the Kentucky Department of Education grades elementary, middle and high schools using a color-coded rating system based on tests taken in spring of the previous year. From lowest to highest, the system is red, orange, yellow, green and blue.
This year, Henderson County elementary schools were rated green; middle schools were also rated green; and the high school was yellow.
Lawson said each school in the district improved over last year’s scores.
“When you work hard and have high achievement, it’s rewarding,” Lawson said. “Our staff can really get the recognition and gratification for their hard work.”
Three elementary schools—Cairo, Spottsville and Niagara—were ranked in the top 3% in the state. Of the 719 elementary schools, Cairo ranked 13th, Spottsville 16th and Niagara 26th.
“No other school district in the state has that,” Lawson said.
Those three elementary schools, plus A.B Chandler, were rated blue. Additionally, East Heights ranked as green while Jefferson, South Heights and Bend Gate were rated yellow.
The high school also scored well in a couple categories. For one, the average ACT composite score increased 0.9 points—from 18.8 last year to 19.7 this year. According to a news release from the school district, the ACT organization considers a 0.1 point jump a marked improvement, so a 0.9 point jump shows “significant growth.”
The 19.7 composite average is 1.2 points higher than the 18.5 state average. The HCHS average is in the top 10% in the state—22nd out of 227 schools, said Lawson.
Additionally, the high school scored well in postsecondary readiness—a measure that considers ACT scores or technical course opportunities at a school and how well-equipped a student is to move to college or the workforce after graduation. HCHS also ranked 22nd statewide in postsecondary readiness, Lawson said.
Some other highlights include:
- South Heights achieved a 48% proficient/distinguished in reading. This score is higher than the state average, which is 47%.
- Jefferson achieved 46% in proficient/distinguished in math. This score is higher than the state average, which is 42%.
- All elementary schools increased their rankings by one color-coded indicator, except Cairo, which remained blue, the highest ranking.
- North Middle School increased its quality of school climate and safety indicator from a red (the lowest) to a yellow.
- South Middle School maintained its blue indicator rating in reading and math.
- The high school increased its indicator rating from yellow to blue in science, social studies and writing.
The school district also released percentile scores that showed 83% of elementary students scored at or above grade level in reading, and 81% of elementary students scored at or above grade level in math.
In middle schools, 79% of students read at or above grade level, and 76% scored at or above grade level in math.
Finally, at the high school, 71% scored at or above grade level in reading, and 66% scored at or above grade level in math.
Though much of the test results are worthy of praise, Lawson said the school district still has much work to do.
Regarding the elementary school scores, Lawson said, “While the numbers are very, very good, we’re not at 100% yet.
“We need to continue to grow in reading and math,” Lawson said. Those subjects are the base from which future learning comes, he said.
At the middle school level, South ranked 52nd of 318 middle schools. North, however, ranked 173rd. Lawson attributed that to a high turnover rate of leadership positions at the school several years before the current principal, Will Roberts, took over last year. He said Roberts is the person to right the ship. And the district has hired other talented educators with years of experience to assist Roberts at the middle school, Lawson said.
Lawson agreed that scores across the board, except for in social studies, decrease when students get to high school. He said that’s not isolated to Henderson County, but occurs at schools across the state. The superintendent said he’s going to make it a personal challenge to motivate students at HCHS.
“I’ve got to do a better job of making it more meaningful to students,” he said.
Additionally, the desires of high school students don’t always match up with more academic work. For example, many have already chosen a career path in a technical field and would rather practice that skill in the Career and Technical Education unit than do intervention work in math and reading, Lawson said.
It’s often a hard sell to make, he said, especially when the student knows he can start a high-salaried job right out of high school that doesn’t require higher level math, for example.