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The results are in: Three local schools get four stars in new accountability system; two county elementary schools get two stars

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Local schools gear up for K-PREPs

Student filling out answers to a test with a pencil.

Three local schools received a four-star rating based on new state accountability data. 

Kentucky public schools’ test scores from the last school year were released Tuesday. 

The area schools with four stars are Peaks Mill Elementary, the middle school at Second Street School and Frankfort High School. 

Two schools, Elkhorn Elementary and Bridgeport Elementary, received two stars. All other local public schools were given three stars. 

The Kentucky Department of Education has implemented a new rating system with a five-star scale that measures school accountability data. The factors that go into a school’s rating are reading and math proficiency; social students, science and writing proficiency; students’ academic growth and progress over one school year; transition readiness, which was formerly college and career readiness; and graduation rate.

One star is defined as a "novice," two is "apprentice," three is "proficient," four is "distinguished" and five is "above and beyond." The ratings are based on test scores from the Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress, or K-PREP, from the 2018-19 year. 

Only about 56 out of more than 1,250 Kentucky schools received five stars. Peaks Mill, Second Street Middle and Frankfort High are among just 233 schools, or 18%, statewide with four stars.   

Franklin County High School was among the 11 schools that the state identified for Additional Targeted Support and Improvement, which means that the school has one or more groups of students who scored at or below students in any of the lowest-performing 5% of schools in the same grade band, or elementary, middle and high school. Schools were designated as ATSI this year if they were designated as Targeted Support and Improvement-Tier II.

 2018-19 star ratings for area schools
 School Name Star rating
 Second Street School (Middle) 4
 Frankfort High School  4
 Peaks Mill Elementary 4
 Second Street School (Elementary) 3
 Collins Lane Elementary  3
 Westridge Elementary 3
 Hearn Elementary 3
 Bondurant Middle School 3
 Elkhorn Middle School 3
 Western Hills High School 3
 Franklin County High School 3
 Elkhorn Elementary 2
 Bridgeport Elementary 2

Frankfort Independent Schools Superintendent Houston Barber said the district has increasingly focused on a personalized learning approach and the passions of students. Schools focus on social emotional wellness, academic-behavioral performances and access to opportunities. Barber also attributed the district’s success to FIS students’ work on reading, writing and math and the implementation of Profile of a Graduate at all levels. 

FHS’ reading and math proficiencies are at some of the highest levels that they have been in the school’s history, Barber said, and he commended the high school on its accolades. 

“Overall, we are in a growth phase,” Barber said. “Our success is really as a result of our teachers and staff and the dedication they have in the classroom and the leadership we have at the school building that I’m very excited about because they are directly connected to that growth.”

Frankfort High, which is under the leadership of Principal John Lyons, offers several student enrichment programs like the Early College program with Kentucky State University, Community Work Transition Program, GearUp! or internships in the community.

Lyons said he was pleased about the school’s transition readiness score, which was 89.5% for the 2018-19 school year. 

“We feel like this is really a culmination of several years of work that we have been doing through the schools,” Lyons said. “We feel like personalized learning really lends itself to a district the size of ours, so we are able to meet kids where they are at and treat them like individuals and lift their skill level. We really think that this is the beginning of where we can be.”

Barber said that Frankfort High’s success is also a result of work at the elementary and middle school levels at Second Street. Dr. Dewey Hensley retired from the middle school at the end of last year. Sam Sams, the current principal, said the school looks at all the needs of a student, not just the academic ones. 

“When you are focused on the whole child, every kid grows,” Sams said. 

Franklin County Schools saw a lot of growth at the elementary level, said Kimberly Young, the district's director of assessment and program effectiveness. Peaks Mill tested a few percentage points higher in every category when compared to last year. The biggest change was from 50% of students in 2018 scoring proficient and distinguished in writing to 61.4% this year. 

Peaks Mill Principal Cassie House said the school focuses on across-the-board high-quality education for all students. One of the first questions that teachers asked when they heard that they were a four-star school, House said, was, “What do we need to do to be five stars?” 

“And that’s what why I love Peaks Mill,” she said. “We are happy to celebrate the things we are doing. We know that we are reaching those students, but we want more. Four stars is not five stars, and we want to be five stars.”

Overall, FCS went up about three points on its proficiency indicator score since last year for a new total of 65.5 out of 125 points at the elementary level. 

“We are working with a new math curriculum, so we definitely contribute that work and the work of us diving into our standards more to that growth and we are very excited about that growth,” Young said. 

The new math curriculum is called Eureka. Westridge Elementary also used a program called Fidelity, for which staff at the school attended additional training. 

Kentucky Commissioner Wayne Lewis will recognize Westridge Elementary and FHS as well as 18 other schools across the state for having at least a 10-point gain in proficiency from 2017-18 to 2018-19. The schools’ principals will receive a certificate for their growth. 

Franklin County High did improve its writing proficiency and distinguished results by 20.4% over last year, and reading increased by 12.4%. Young said the teachers at the school worked diligently with students, who took the exam online for the first time last academic year. 

“Science is going to be a big area really at all levels. That was our weakest level overall, so we are working with some content area specialists to come and help our teachers because they work so hard and we have a low amount of novice, but a high level of apprentice. So, there’s something that we are missing to get them to proficient."

Young said FCS is “very excited” about the graduation rate of 91.4% at its high schools, which is a record high for the district. Young said the recent addition of William Cofield High School helped to increase the number of graduates from last year by 40 students, most of whom were at a high risk of dropping out of school. 

Both Franklin County and Frankfort Independent, except at the elementary level, did not have any significant gap groups, or groups that had a significant achievement gap between itself and the average. These demographic groups includes students who are part of minority races, economically disadvantaged, special education or English as a second language. 

All Kentucky public schools data can be found on kyschoolreportcard.com.

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