(Harlan, Ky.) – Following a two-year global pandemic that turned the education sector upside down, students, parents, and communities across the nation have been scrambling for solutions to deal with wide gaps in learning loss. On Tuesday, October 18th, the Kentucky Department of Education publicly released Kentucky Summative Assessment (KSA) results from the Spring 2022 assessment through the School Report Card as required by statute and under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. The School Report Card gives schools some valuable insights into the effectiveness of the efforts to help students recover.
Beginning this year, Kentucky’s 2022 School Report Card will feature the state’s new color-coded accountability system, which was previously a 5-star system. Moving forward, the post-pandemic accountability system provides a color-coded rating for all schools at each level (elementary, middle, and high) ranging from red (lowest) to blue (highest).
In addition to the color-coded system, each school may be assigned a Federal Classification label based on the overall school performance score. These Federal Classifications include Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI), Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI), and Additional Targeted Support and Improvement (ATSI) are all federally mandated school identifications. CSI status schools are identified based on two criteria: If the school is in the bottom 5% of all schools based on the overall school score, or if they have a graduation rate below 80% while TSI schools are those who have a student group performing at or below the bottom 5% of all schools.
“As expected, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on our students and our schools as they continue to recover from the interrupted learning that occurred over the past two years,” said Education Commissioner and Chief Learner Jason E. Glass. “These assessment results will serve as the baseline from which we will move forward as we look to new and innovative learning opportunities for all of Kentucky’s students.”
Glass said Kentucky’s results are consistent with what other states are experiencing.
“There will be no quick fix for the challenges our students endured during the pandemic,” he said. “It will take time and resources.”
Harlan Independent Schools Superintendent C.D. Morton says the assessment results are extremely encouraging for his staff, students, and ultimately families. “We have been anxiously awaiting these results so we could really see where we can get better. The data from this assessment is a crucial element in knowing how well your schools are performing and how well you are preparing students. It is easy to assume you are doing well, but until you have statewide results to give some context, you don’t really know how well you are doing relative to the rest of the state. These results validate the strategies and focus we had during the pandemic. They also reinforce that our targeted efforts with the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds were and continue to be effectively used to impact student learning. Our district is doubling down on our focus in moving students and families forward in the classroom while strengthening a school culture where students thrive.”
All three Harlan Independent Schools (Harlan Elementary, Harlan Middle, and Harlan High) fall into the green category and have no Federal Classification under the new accountability system.
“While it’s always great to be green, it’s particularly great to be green under the new accountability system.” stated Supervisor of Instruction, Mrs. Jennifer Parsons. “Given the challenges all schools have been facing with attendance, changing student demographics, increases in special education populations as well as the number of students who qualifies for free and reduced lunch, now is the time to be creative in helping students perform at the highest level possible. In many ways, the rewards of a strong performance on this assessment help fuel efforts to get our students back on track faster than we thought possible. Despite the challenges, this sends a clear signal that what we are doing is affecting student achievement. I am extremely pleased with the results.”
Harlan Independent students exceeded the state average scores in every area assessed except two. Students are assessed in Math and Reading in grades three (3) through eight (8) as well as tenth (10) grade. Science is assessed in the 4th, 7th, and 11th grade, while Social Studies and Combined Writing is assessed in 5th, 8th, and 11th grade.
As was the case in the prior system, school leaders looked for bright spots and found no shortage of things to celebrate. The percentage of students scoring at the Proficient and/or Distinguished level in 3rd-grade reading was 16th out of more than 700 elementary schools. Students at Harlan Middle School were among the top 10% in Reading while also scoring among the top 5% in Science, On-Demand Writing, Social Studies, and Editing and Mechanics. And across the board at Harlan High scores were among the top 10% in Reading, Math, and Social Studies. Postsecondary readiness scores at Harlan High are also the 15th highest among all High Schools.
Harlan Independent % of Students Scoring Proficient/Distinguished by Content Area
E & M = 66.5%
ODW = 56.5%
E & M = 46.5%
ODW = 35.5%
E & M = 46%
ODW = 43%
E & M = 48%
ODW = 38%
Pointing out the investment in key staffing positions and programs, Parsons noted the direct impact the district has seen for students. “The Harlan Independent Board of education is to be commended for their investment in the Dual Credit program and our emphasis on Advanced Placement courses at the High School. As a result of providing free Dual Credit courses and expanding our offerings, we have seen our Postsecondary Readiness scores, formerly college and career readiness, skyrocket resulting in some of the highest scores in the state.
Parsons also pointed out that comparisons to previous assessment models are not possible due to the significant changes in accountability and assessment. The current summative assessment tests were developed by Kentucky teachers and aligned with the Kentucky Academic Standards.
Morton explained that the Kentucky Summative Assessment is simply one tool to help schools guide the work they do for students. “Schools are dynamic places and students aren’t machines, there are many factors that contribute to a high-performing school. You can’t have high student achievement without addressing the non-academic needs of your students and families. When you have a strong culture of support and quality classroom instruction the sky’s the limit for student success.”
Illustrating the need for continued support across all areas, statewide less than 25% of Elementary and Middle schools scored either Green or Blue and only 30% of High Schools were able to reach that mark. With the vast majority of schools falling into the lower tier of performance levels, it is expected the work to recover will be a long-term commitment.
Parsons noted that while all Harlan Independent schools scored well enough to be in the green category, there were plenty of areas that need to improve, “Overall, we are pleased, but we are not satisfied. Both our Middle and High Schools were very close to reaching the Blue category and we are confident we will get there in all of our schools. We see many areas where we can grow and have already begun to dig into the data and implement changes to impact student learning. We will continue to look for insights from the data to help us make the changes necessary to continue performing at the highest levels possible.”
To find out more about your school simply go to www.kyschoolreportcard.com.