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Local Districts Show Gains, Covington Has First Ever Distinguished School

Local school districts are celebrating gains in Kentucky’s Unbridled Learning for All Assessment and Accountability System.

Across the Commonwealth, student performance, college and career readiness, and the number of students graduating from high school are improving, according to the data made public on Friday by the Kentucky Department of Education.

Covington Independent Public Schools is celebrating its first ever "distinguished" school in Glenn O. Swing Elementary, finishing in the 99th percentile on state tests.

"We are very excited about our progress as a school," said Glenn O. Swing principal Scott Alter. "We believe this has been a whole school team effort which has taken many years to achieve and will take even harder work to maintain. Our main focus has been and will remain on student work and results on a daily basis. Based on those student results, we will continue to grow our teachers and learn from one another. Our staff has developed a growth mindset. We believe our students will be successful if we continue to give our best effort and realize through struggle and failure we will succeed."

The Covington district overall made significant gains. Latonia Elementary just missed a distinguished ranking, finishing in the high "proficient" category for the second year in a row. All schools in the district showed gains in their annual measurable objective (AMO) goals.

“We are extremely proud of the progress we are making in our schools,’’ said Superintendent Alvin Garrison. “The results are a testament to the hard work of our teachers, students, principals and parents. We know we still have much work to do, but we are headed in the right direction and we are committed to this path of improvement."
 
The tests are known as K-PREP, or the Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress and they combine with other measures to make up the Unbridled Learning Accountability system. The model measures student achievement, growth, and gap group data at entry level, college and career readiness at middle and high school levels, and graduation rates at the high school level.
 
Districts get scores from 0 to 100. The goal is for every school to become proficient or better.
 
“The numbers show, without a doubt, that we are making progress,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. “The gains we are seeing are the result of a lot of hard work by our teachers, administrators, and our students with the support of parents, community members and our education partners – they all share in this good news.”
 
Holliday spoke to reporters in a video conference on Thursday. The River City News asked the commissioner whether the statewide gains were a success story for the Common Core Standards, which Kentucky was quick to adopt. "Yes they are a success story," Holliday said. "It's more of a signal of the great work of the Kentucky teachers in implementing the standards."
 
"Go to a few neighboring states and you won't see these kinds of statistics because the implementation by teachers was not done that well. That's what separates Kentucky, our level of teacher buy-in, commitment to learning these standards, and providing these students with support."
 
Holliday said that the standards are also working in urban districts like Covington. "In years gone by, we might have said, oh, these kids, they can't do it so we're going to give them lesser-than standards and less-than work," Holliday said. "With Common Core, you've got a level playing field where we expect every child to reach this performance level and every child has the potential to be college and career ready. So yes, I think we're getting to see some real impact in our urban settings."
 
The commissioner specifically cited Jefferson County Public Schools (Louisville) which jumped to the 51 percentile, up from 31 last year and 20 the year before.
 
New Bellevue Independent Schools Superintendent Robb Smith also celebrated some gains in his district and said that the faculty and staff are committed to working toward more gains in the future. "The state expects incremental gains. Our improvement this year was pretty significant," Smith said. The district climbed from the 17 percentile last year to the 42 percentile this year. 
 
"We're really focused on raising expectations and increasing rigor in our classrooms. We are actively looking at our delivery. We are very fortunate to have a very open and dedicated teaching staff and they have articulated that they want to be great."
 
Additionally in 2014, the college/career readiness rate in Kentucky jumped to 62.3 percent – up from 54.1 percent last year and 47.2 percent in 2012. The four-year graduation rate is up as well – from 86.1 percent in 2012-13 to 87.4 percent in the 2013-14 school year.
 
The state exceeded its 2014 accountability goal of 65.3 with an overall score of 68.7 out of 100. A total of 641 schools and 95 districts are performing at the highest levels – classified as either proficient or distinguished, while 860  schools and 79 districts met the requirements to be considered progressing.
 
This is the third year the state has reported results from Kentucky’s Unbridled Learning for All Assessment and Accountability System.

Local results: 

BELLEVUE INDEPENDENT

District: Overall score: 63 Percentile: 42 

Bellevue High: 66.3, 47 percentile (needs improvement)

Middle Grades: 57.3, 28 percentile (needs improvement/progressing) 

Grandview Elementary: 67, 59 percentile (needs improvement/progressing)

COVINGTON INDEPENDENT

District: 59.4, 22 percentile (needs improvement)

Holmes High: 59.7, 18 percentile (needs improvement/progressing)

Holmes Middle: 55, 20 (needs improvement/progressing)

Glenn O. Swing Ele. 82, 99 percentile (DISTINGUISHED/progressing -- School of Distinction/High Progress School)

Latonia Ele. 73.1, 85 percentile (PROFICIENT/progressing

John G. Carlisle Ele. 58.4, 26 percentile (needs improvement/progressing)

Sixth District Ele. 58.3, 25 percentile (needs improvement/progressing)

Ninth District Ele. 48, 5 percentile (needs improvement/progressing)

DAYTON INDEPENDENT

District: 62, 33 percentile (needs improvement)

Dayton High: 60.4, 20 percentile (needs improvement)

Middle Grades: 57.7, 30 percentile (needs improvement)

Lincoln Ele. 66.9, 58 percentile (needs improvement)

FT. THOMAS INDEPENDENT

District: 82.1, 99 percentile (DISTINGUISHED/progressing)

Highlands High: 87, 99 percentile (DISTINGUISHED/progressing)

Highlands Middle: 78.5, 98 percentile (DISTINGUISHED/progressing)

Johnson Ele. 83.1, 99 percentile (DISTINGUISHED)

Moyer Ele. 80.4, 98 percentile (DISTINGUISHED/progressing)

Woodfill Ele. 78.4, 96 percentile (DISTINGUISHED/progressing)

KENTON COUNTY (select schools)

District: 71.4, 89 percentile (PROFICIENT/progressing)

Scott High: 71.4, 73 percentile (PROFICIENT/progressing)

Simon Kenton High: 71.4 percentile (PROFICIENT/progressing)

Dixie Heights High: 70.7, 72 percentile (PROFICIENT/progressing)

Woodland Middle: 69, 79 percentile (PROFICIENT/progressing)

Taylor Mill 68, 63 percentile (needs improvement)

(DISTINGUISHED SCHOOLS: Beechgrove Ele., RC Hinsdale Ele., Ryland Heights Ele., Turkeyfoot Middle)

LUDLOW INDEPENDENT

District: 65.9, 57 percentile (needs improvement)

Ludlow High: 74.2, 86 percentile (PROFICIENT)

Middle Grades: 56.2, 24 percentile (needs improvement)

Mary A. Goetz Ele. 67.8, 62 percentile (needs improvement)

NEWPORT INDEPENDENT

District: 56.3, 18 percentile (needs improvement)

Newport High: 61.3, 23 percentile (needs improvement)

Newport Middle: 51.1, 12 percentile (needs improvement)

Newport Intermediate: 57.5, 22 percentile (needs improvement)

OTHER NORTHERN KENTUCKY HIGHLIGHTS: Silver Grove Elementary came in as one of the worst schools in the state, with a score of 43.1, placing it in the 1 percentile; Beechwood District, High, and Elementary all ranked as DISTINGUISHED while the Middle School was PROFICIENT; Boone County is a DISTINGUISHED district with nine schools ranking as DISTINGUISHED, including Boone County, Cooper, and Ryle High Schools; Campbell County ranked as a DISTINGUISHED district, with four out of seven schools earning DISTINGUISHED distinctions, including Campbell County High School; Erlanger-Elsmere "needs improvement" though Lloyd High School ranked as PROFICIENT; Walton-Verona Schools were DISTINGUISHED/progressing across the board; Southgate Independent "needs improvement.

You can see the full list and their scores by clicking here.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photo via Glenn O. Swing Elementary