Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Schools

September 30, 2011

Are districts closing the gap?

GLASGOW — Under Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) guidelines, all students in the state are expected to reach proficiency in reading and math.

The Kentucky Core Content Test (KCCT) Combined Reading/Mathematics Gap to Goal Comparison Report released by KDE on Tuesday shows how different categories or subpopulations of students in schools, differentiated by gender, ethnicity and financial or physical limitations, are performing toward achievement of the 100 percent proficiency goal.   

The report highlights performance for two years on KCCT in combined reading and math and shows whether the gap in student performance is closing or widening. Only groups with 10 or more students tested are reported, according to information provided on the KDE website.

Overall, the five area school districts had more subpopulations with closing gaps in performance than widening ones in the percent of students receiving proficient plus distinguished scores in reading and math. Individual school results within districts were more varied.

The state’s results showed closing gaps in seven subgroups and no change in three others compared to last year.

BARREN COUNTY

The Barren County School District received data on nine total subpopulations. Overall, eight groups showed closing gaps in performance. Only one, students with disabilities, had a widening gap.

The district’s elementaries were split on performance with Austin Tracy, Hiseville and North Jackson closing the gap in most or all of their subpopulations while Eastern, Park City, Red Cross and Temple Hill each had a majority of widening gaps.

Barren County Middle School closed performance gaps in all six of its subpopulations. Barren County High School had widening gaps in all six groups.

Superintendent Bo Matthews was perplexed by some of the Gap to Goal results at the elementary schools.

“I don’t want to get too bogged down into specific schools, but you look at Temple Hill. I’ll be honest with you. It makes me scratch my head a little bit when you see widening gaps when it’s been one of the consistently top-performing elementaries. I think what it is – that’s a particular assessment piece of data that looks specifically at a limited number of students,” he said.

Matthews praised Hiseville specifically for its positive results.

“If somebody needed a win, that’s a school that has gone through several changes in leadership and yet they’re able to get the desired result,” he said.

The performance at the middle school was also a celebration point, Matthews added.

“It’s almost as if the middle school is getting their turn. Finally, we’ve got multiple sets of data that say the middle school has got things really racheted up in rigor and relevance and they’re getting the data that we had hoped they would generate for the school,” he said.

Matthews questioned the accurateness of data for BCHS.

“I’m not convinced that is the ultimate grade we need to give the high school based on national and state recognition on AP, ACT and dual credit. When you have that kind of information coming in about your high school along with the magnet program that’s been implemented plus our college and career, I think you need to take all of this data in order to give us a grade on the score card,” he said.

But even though some schools didn’t meet goals, Matthews was still pleased with the results overall.

“When you factor in all populations, we’ve got to be happy about that. You have individual schools in the short term that appear to have widening gaps, but when you look at the overall district goals we seem to be headed in the right direction,” he said.

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