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Transitional accountability standards show areas of growth, spots for improvement
Ballard County schools showed some of their best-ever test scores, and one area requiring improvement in accountability results released to the public recently. Scores are from assessments taken during the 2017-18 school year.
 
The 2017-18 ACT score was Ballard Memorial High School’s best to date (19.9), and largest one-year increase (from 19.0 in 2016-17) since mandatory testing of all juniors began in 2007-08. The 19.9 composite score was in the top 25 percent in the state, and third-highest in the Purchase Region. ACT scores from this year’s senior class exceeded state averages in four of five areas: 19.9 in English (state 18.8), 19.7 in math (18.8 in math), 19.9 in science (19.2), and 19.9 composite (19.3). Only the reading score of 19.6 in reading was slightly below the state average of 19.8.
 
More BMHS students than ever scored above the Council on Postsecondary Education’s ACT benchmarks for college-level readiness, too: 62.6 percent are above 18 in English (state average of (51.2 percent), and 52.3 percent above a 20 in reading (state average of 47.1 percent). While 45.8 percent scored above 19 in math – well above the state average of 38.9 percent – the scores from 2013-14 remained Ballard’s best-ever at 46.6 percent.
 
“Transition readiness, of which ACT or college entrance exams are a part, is an integral part of the new accountability model,” said Ballard Assistant Superintendent David Meinschein. “Our goal is to ensure all students are ready to transition to a career and/or postsecondary education upon graduating. The focus from the teachers and administrators at BMHS on the success of the individual child had a profound impact on ACT scores. In addition, the support received from the Four Rivers Foundation in prepping for the ACT proved invaluable.”
 
BMHS’ score of 75.3 was well above the state’s average Transition Readiness Indicator of 60.9, as was Ballard’s Graduation Indicator of 93.3 (state average 90.8) and four-year graduation rate of 95.1 (state average of 90.3). Because the state assessment system is using ACT scores this year, high school scores for achievement are not comparable to last year’s.
 
According to a release from the Kentucky Department of Education, the agency is in the process of phasing in a new accountability system, entirely doing away with the K-PREP system that had been in use since 2011-12. The new system will be fully implemented with assessments taken in this (2018-19) school year, and will conform to the requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the 2017 Kentucky Senate Bill 1. Once fully implemented, school and district performance will be classified using Kentucky’s 5-Star rating system.
 
Ballard County Middle School ranked in the top 10 percent of schools in the state in the Separate Academic Indicator category (science, social studies and writing assessments), including a percentile score that was 24th in the state. The school also was above the state average in proficiency indicators (77.9 at BCMS, 72.8 state). The overall growth indicator at BCMS is 11.9, just below the state average of 12.1.
 
It was one of the 128 Kentucky middle schools (40 percent) identified for Targeted Support and Improvement. Those schools had at least one student subgroup performing at the level of CSI schools. The subgroup at BCMS is students with disabilities, the most common in the state. 
 
“Our high marks on the SAI and proficiency indicators show that BCMS staff and students are committed to the school’s mission and vision,” said Principal Amber Parker. “Just as we say every morning, ‘We believe everyone can learn, everyone must be dedicated to excellence, and everyone must be open to change.’ We will make the necessary changes to ensure success for all students at BCMS. As the old saying goes, ‘You grow through what you go through.’ We’re looking at this as a great opportunity for growth.”    
 
At Ballard County Elementary School, both the Separate Academic and Growth indicators were above state averages (SAI of 70.8 vs. state 64.8; Growth 17.7 vs. state 17.1). The Proficiency indicator was 65.0 (state 70.5), despite increases significant increases in social studies and writing scores (up to 63 percent and 54.7 percent respectively, from 58.9 and 41.1 percent in 2016-17). Reading went down slightly, from 51.1 to 50.9 percent.
A KDE-produced brief on the new accountability system, and the state's full press release, are attached below. 
Attachments Available To Download:
KDE's Accountability at a Glance
KDE's full news release
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