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Earlier this year, staff with Franklin County Schools was anticipating good news when the Kentucky Department of Education released its School Report Card.

Then came COVID-19, which wiped out the star ratings and accountability scores on the report card and limited the academic performance report.

“We were certain it was going to be a banner year,” said Sharla Six, FCS assistant superintendent for instruction.

Despite limitations on the report, the news was good for FCS when the School Report Card was released Wednesday.

“The data shows it’s been a really good year for the district,” FCS Superintendent Mark Kopp said. “It’s definitely been a lot of hard work that a lot of people have put in. It’s a good place to build as we go forward.”

A spokesperson with KDE said the star rating will resume when schools are able to administer the assessments. 

Because of schools closing in March due to the COVID-19 crisis, the state requested and received a waiver on assessments and accountability from the U. S. Department of Education. The waiver only covered the 2019-2020 school year.

The first number in this year's School Report Card that pleased FCS staff was the district’s graduation rate.

The four-year graduation rate for FCS in the 2019-20 school year was 94.5%, up from 90.5% the previous year.

“One of the major areas we’ve been focusing on as a district and that Mr. Kopp has been focusing on is the graduation rate,” said Kimberly Young, FCS’ director of assessment and program effectiveness.

“What we’ve been doing the last couple years is look at each student individually and planning for that student and what they need to graduate from high school.”

The graduation at Franklin County High School last year was 94.8%, and it was 96.8% at Western Hills High School.

The 4-year and 5-year graduation rates increased across the board, including students who were economically disadvantaged, special education and of two or more races.

“We always want a 100% graduation rate,” Six said. “We want our community to be stronger, and if we have a 100% graduation rate, it will be. We'll keep raising that bar.”

The district’s advanced course completion rate last year was 96.7%.

“We have hundreds of kids take dual credit classes, and those who complete dual credit classes is up from 93.4% to 95.3%,” Young said, “and they’ll be able to use those as college credit.”

FCS has also seen an improvement in the 5-year graduation rate of English Learners, defined as a student who uses another language in addition to or other than English.

“Kim runs our English Learner program,” Six said. “Since she started coordinating the program we’ve made great gains. This past year we added some staff. Mr. Kopp and the board support this program. They saw the number of English learners rise, and they added staff to support students and teachers.”

The five-year graduation rate for English Learners in the district rose from 60% in 2018 to 81.8% this year.

“When you look at the Franklin County community, our numbers of English Learners have increased,” Young said. “We’ve taken the holistic approach of looking not only at the English Learner student but also looking at their families and what they need at home.”

FCS' enrollment stayed virtually the same, with an increase of five students from 2018-19 (6,168) to 2019-20 (6,173).

Of the 14 FCS schools on the School Report Card, 12 have more than half their students listed as economically disadvantaged. The two schools that don’t are Franklin County and Western Hills. The Franklin County Career and Technical Center didn’t have data listed for economic standing.

“I want to thank our teachers,” Six said. “They’re working so hard right now, and they did not give up last spring when they had three to five days to make changes needed to go virtual. Our teachers are working so hard, and I’d like to give them some credit.”

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