Dr. Benny Lile

DR. BENNY LILE 

EDMONTON — The Metcalfe County School System received an accountability rating of two stars on the elementary, middle and high school levels for the 2018-19 school year.

The Kentucky Department of Education rolled out the state's new five-star accountability system earlier this week. The new accountability system assigns the state, school districts and schools with an overall star rating ranging from one to five, with one being the lowest and five being the highest.

“I've been around this system a long time and I've served on state committees and I don't know, I actually wrote my dissertation on state assessments, so I've been around it a long time. I said in (the press release) any large-scale assessment system has limitations and this one certainly is no different,” said Dr. Benny Lile, superintendent of Metcalfe County schools, adding that he struggles with respect to whether or not the entire picture of the school district is being captured.

“When I say that, … I know that no system can do that perfectly.”

He continued that there seems to be a constant effort underway of trying to find a balance of accurate reporting that captures the flavor of the school and the true performance of the student.

“Somewhere along the way you are going to lose some things and you are going to gain some things, so I guess in a roundabout way, to me, there is no perfect system,” he said. “What we are constantly trying to figure out of this data is what we can take that is useful. What can we take that helps us with individual children build a better educational plan for each and every educational child. Even though this has multiple components, I'm not sure we're there yet.”

Lile also said he is not unhappy with the school system's accountability rating.

“I'm not displeased because our people work extremely hard every day. We have great kids. Many of them overcoming or attempting to overcome great challenges,” he said.

The superintendent referenced a statement made by a colleague from Lexington, who said in a Tweet something to the effect that every child in Kentucky got a star with the release of the state assessments.

“And they did,” he said. “I look at it as every teacher in Kentucky got a star. It gets border line frustrating that this is almost seen as there are winners and losers …, because I know there are good people, good kids, good families and good things happening in every, just not Metcalfe County schools, but (every) schools and I know that.”

According to a press release issued by KDE there were 251 schools across the state that received an accountability rating of two stars. There were 89 schools that received a one star rating; 643 that received a three star rating; 233 that received a four star rating; and 56 that received a five star rating.

The star ratings are based on the 2018-19 Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress or K-Prep assessment data and other indicators.

The star ratings are based on the 2018-19 Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress assessment data and other indicators, which were also released earlier this week.

The indicators that factor into a school's overall accountability star rating are: reading, math, science, social studies and writing proficiency, student academic growth/progress over a one academic year, transition readiness and graduation rate.

“There were some numbers that were good and there were some numbers that didn't reflect exceptionally well, but like most times there are some bright spots and there are some not bright spots,” said Josh Hurt, district assessment coordinator.

The state averages for elementary level are: Reading, 54.6 percent; Math, 48.6 percent; Writing, 46.6 percent; Social Studies, 53 percent; and Science, 31.7 percent.

Metcalfe County's scores on the elementary level are: Reading, 41.7 percent; Math, 30.5 percent; Writing, 29.5 percent; Social Studies, 46.7 percent; and Science, 20.6 percent.

“When it comes to math and reading, which are the proficiency numbers, we know there is work to do as far as making sure our kids are literate and that they know basic mathematical skills, but I think as Dr. Lile has alluded to we track on a regular basis these concerns and we are aware of them and we are going to keep working on them based on the internal numbers we have as well,” Hurt said.

Metcalfe County Middle School also scored below state averages.

The state averages for the middle school level are: Reading, 59.6 percent; Math, 46.4 percent; Writing, 31.9 percent; Social Studies, 58.8 percent; and Science, 26 percent.

Metcalfe County Middle School's score are: Reading, 48.2 percent; Math, 26.4 percent; Writing, 23.5 percent; Social Studies, 56.9 percent; and Science, 22.1 percent.

Metcalfe County High School also scored below state averages.

The state averages for the high school level are: Reading, 44.5 percent; Math, 35.3 percent; Writing, 50.3 percent; and Science, 29.9 percent. There was no score listed for social studies.

Metcalfe County High School's scores are: Reading, 34.9 percent; Math, 27.8 percent; Writing, 42.2 percent; and Science, 16.5 percent.

The school district gives its students the Measurement of Academic Progress exam, which Lile said it does at its own expense three times per school year.

“You get a real time (result), because you get a score the minute the child finishes the exam, so you know exactly what's going on,” he said. “And then you get a true measurement of growth because that's measuring the child against a child in that content area.”

The state scores for separate academic are: elementary school level, 64.7; middle school level, 63.3; and high school level, 62.

The districts scores for separate academic index are: Metcalfe County Elementary, 57.5; Metcalfe County Middle School, 61.1; and Metcalfe County High School, 56.5.

“Again, some bright spots and spots that we need to work on,” Hurt said. “One of the real bright spots is our middle school social studies, which falls into that category, had a 2.9 percent novice rate (and is) exceptionally low and well below the state novice rate which I believe is around the 10 percent area.”

He continued that the middle and elementary school scored in the medium performance area of the separate academic index, which he said is solid.

“It's not great, but it's not in the bottom either,” Hurt said. “So, there were some positives there as well, but again, I think all these numbers suggest we have some pockets of success and we have some places that we've got to go to work.”

As for growth, the state's scores are: elementary, 57.7; middle, 52.5; and high, 52.5.

The districts scores for growth are: Metcalfe County Elementary School, 61.2; Metcalfe County Middle School, 53.5; and Metcalfe County High School, 66.3.

“The elementary school in growth was rated high, which is good. It means that in reading and math they saw progress from one year to the next year with the same students, so that was a real positive,” Hurt said.

The state score for graduation rate is 91.1, and the district's score is 90.3.

“Our graduation rate is kind of intriguing, because when you look at in the school report card suite it's a little misleading. It actually rated us as low graduation rate, but our graduation rate of a four year cohort, which were kids that were here for four years and graduated in four years was 91.4 percent somewhere in that rate which was above state average on the four year cohort,” Hurt said.

He continued that the state education commissioner has said Kentucky has one of the highest graduation rates in the U.S.

“So we are a little bit better than the state and the state is a whole lot better than everybody else. I felt like that was a positive as well,” Hurt said.

“But yet it hit a category called low,” Lile said. “We're still trying to figure some of this out as well. We're just trying to sort out the numbers so if one class has a proficiency number of 48 and then another has a proficiency of 42, but a cut score for a two star and a three star is right between them, how much does that really mean? I don't think any of know that yet. I'm not sure how you get at that. We're still trying to sort it out.”

More than anything Lile said he wanted Metcalfe County parents to know that their children are coming to schools where there are caring, loving and safe environments.

“I don't think there is any question about that,” he said.

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