Kentucky has administered its last student achievement core content tests and the results are out today. Also out are the results of tests mandated by the nearly-defunct ‘No Child Left Behind’ Act. In Fayette County, the results were once again, a mixed bag. The overall score for the Lexington school district improved overall, increasing to a grade of 94….Lexington’s highest index ever. It represents a one percent improvement over last year’s tests. Rather than claim victory, Fayette County School Superintendent Tom Shelton is still processing the data. “We had schools that had gains. We had schools that had losses.We’re gonna’ have to do a pretty comprehensive look to see what’s working and what’s not,” said Shelton.
Fayette Countyhas long worked to narrow the achievement gap that separates minority and low-income students from the average student. But, this year, the gap widened…with disparities growing between racial groups, income levels, students with special needs and students who speak English as a second language. An exception was found at James Lane Allen Elementary, where Principal Greg Williams says some low achieving kids were convinced to excel.
“All kids can learn without a doubt. We have to reflect that belief in everything we do. Kids as adults do, if they don’t meet success the first time, there’s a little doubt in their mind,” said Williams.
Williams says the key to success is a focus on the needs of an individual student.
Funding is also key. Three years ago, Harrison Elementary scored 77 on the transition index. With the help of a one-point-two-million-dollar grant, the inner city school scored a 99 on a similar test administered last spring. Principal Tammy Franks says the funding helped them hire two additional teachers at each grade level. It meant help was more available when a student needed it.
“So that intervention teacher was actually in the classroom, with the children who were struggling, and she provided two or three extra groups or one on one instruction for the kids that were struggling,” added Franks.
The state legislature and the Council on Postsecondary Education have long asked school districts to do a better job of preparing students for college. Today’s (Tuesday) test results show Fayette County making progress, with over half of the 2011 graduates judged ready for college.
Senioritis is the term given to those seniors who lose interest in classwork as they near graduation. While admitting it’s an issue, Director of High Schools Mike McKenzie claims they may have found the right medicine for senioritus.
“Matter of fact, I was at one school today and they had a 200 student increase in the number of kids taking A-P courses, which are not always, but traditionally more for junior than more for seniors. We’ve got more kids involved in duel credit classes now than we’ve ever had at all five high schools,” explained McKenzie.
Fayette school board member Melissa Bacon is the mother of a senior at Dunbar High School. Bacon adds sometimes the preparation in the final year of high school goes beyond the books.
“It’s kind of that emotional intelligence as well as the academic intelligence that you have to kind of educate them about. How to act in the workforce as well as getting the grades and business etiquette,” said Bacon.
Schools long tried to measure up to standards set ten years ago by the Federal No Child Left Behind Act. Just last Friday, President Obama announced there will likely be changes in the way the Act is implemented and enforced next year. And with those changes will probably come new tests designed to measure a school district’s effectiveness.