By: Greg Bird
Pine Knot Intermediate School is the jewel in the McCreary County School District’s crown after being named a Distinguished and High Performing School in the latest release of data from the Kentucky Department of Education’s Unbridled Learning accountability program.
PKI was one of four total schools in the district to show gains over the past year, with McCreary Central, McCreary Middle and Pine Knot Primary all reaching the Annual Measurable Objectives (AMO) in the last round of assessment.
The only school in the District to show a decline in overall assessment scores was Whitley City Elementary.
PKI showed a 3.5-point gain to 76.4 overall, placing them in the 93rd percentile of schools in the state, earning them the high praise from state officials.
Conversely, WCES scores dropped 3.3-points overall, placing them in the 56th percentile, down from the 70th percentile last year. The school has been categorized as a “needs improvement” school.
The High Performing School classification designation signifies the school’s scores fall between the 90th to the 94th percentile in the state and it has met its current year AMO and student participation rate
MCHS met their AMO with a 1-point gain for an overall assessment score of 64, and placed in the 34th percentile of high schools in Kentucky. The school did not meet their target in graduation rate and is also a “needs improvement” school.
The middle school scores rose 2 points overall to 58.7, and ranked in the 33rd percentile. The school is categorized as “needs improvement,” and “focus” school, but also “progressing.”
Pine Knot Primary, which had the lowest scores in the District last year, also saw gains, improving 2 points, to 54.2, over last year and meeting all objectives. PKP ranked in the 14th percentile in the state. It was classified as a “needs improvement” and “progressing” school, but also a “focus” school.
The “focus” designation for PKP and MCHS signifies their test data had a non-duplicated student gap score ranked in the bottom 10 percent in the state.
Needs Improvement classification signifies the school falls below the 70th percentile of similar schools in the state. Progressing signifies the school met all AMO for the year.
A closer look
Pine Knot Intermediate School is the only school in the District where proficient/distinguished scores rank higher than the state average in all but one subject.
Reading saw 55.3 percent of students testing at the higher levels, with only 54.7 percent of students state wide. The gaps increase down the line: 52.3 percent in math at PKI and 49.2 percent in Kentucky. A whopping 76.6 percent in science compared to 71.3 percent in the state. 66.4 percent in social studies compared to 58.2 percent, and 68 percent in writing with only 38.7 percent in the state scoring proficient or distinguished.
The only subject where the proficient/distinguished scores fall below the state average is in Language mechanics, with only 42.1 percent of PKI students testing at that level compared to 51.8 percent in Kentucky.
McCreary County Schools Superintendent Donnie Wright said he was proud of the gains made by PKI, and praised them for the hard work they had put in.
“This ranking places Pine Knot Intermediate among the elite schools in the state,” he said. “This is a tribute to our students, teachers and entire learning community’s dedication to student achievement. The staff has earned this distinction by naming and claiming each individual student and using great judgment in selecting strategies and identifying resources that focus on individual student needs. Pine Knot Intermediate School has earned this success ranking.”
McCreary Central High School met their Annual Measurable Objectives, gaining the one point needed to reach that goal, but the percentage of students scoring Novice and Apprentice in some subjects is far behind state averages.
In Reading 41.8 percent of students tested at Novice level, compared to 33.5 percent statewide. 45.2 percent of students scored Proficient or distinguished, while Kentucky overall saw 55.4 percent.
In Math 87.8 percent of students tested at the lower two rankings with the state total at 62.2 percent. Science scores shows 20.4 percent of students scored proficient or distinguished compared to 39.8 percent statewide. Scores in Writing (30.9 p/d – 43.3 state) Social Studies (43.5 -58) and Language Mechanics (43.6-49.9) also were below state averages.
Wright said he was pleased with the improvement, but noted there was still work to be done.
“McCreary Central High School showed an increase from 63 to 64 in their overall score and did meet their AMO,” he said. “However, they fell short by only .2 of a percentage point from meeting the 4-year Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate target. Principal, Mrs. Sharon Privett, and the staff at McCreary Central High School will make adjustments in their schedule and revisit the curriculum and instructional strategies in an effort to continue to improve. McCreary Central High School has made strides but realize they have more work to do.”
McCreary Middle’s 2-point gain put them ahead of their AMO goal, but overall scores still fall below state averages.
41.5 percent of MCMS students tested at proficient or distinguished in reading compared to 53.2 in Kentucky. Similar gaps can be seen in math (32.8/44.8), science (56.4/64.2), social studies (43.5/59.4) and writing (34.1/43.7)
Wright said school officials have intensified their work, and are seeing benefits among the student population.
“At McCreary County Middle we have increased our focus on student test data and the test results indicate that the middle school is moving in the right direction,” he said. “McCreary Middle had an increase from 56.7 to 58.7 in their overall score and met their Annual Measureable Objective (AMO) set by the Kentucky Department of Education. Principal, Mr. Clint Taylor, along with the entire staff are reviewing the school test data and making changes to ensure the students and school will continue to move in the right direction.”
Whitley City Elementary’s biggest gaps came in reading, math and language mechanics. Only 38.3 percent of students tested at proficient/distinguished in reading, 16.4 percent lower than the state average; 30.7 percent in math, a gap of 18.5 percent; and 39.8 percent in language mechanics, 12 percentage points below the average.
Science (69.3 percent) and writing (36.7 percent) were just 2 points below the average, and social studies scores of 58.8 was just .6 percent behind the state average.
Superintendent Wright stated significant changes will be made at the school in an effort to improve overall scores.
“Principal, Mr. Foster Jones, and all of the staff will take a specific look at the factors that led to the decrease in scores and will make significant adjustments in their daily planning and assessment once those factors are identified.” he said. “These changes will provide the school with an opportunity to improve their overall student achievement and get back on the right track. In addition, student learning intervention strategies will be closely monitored to gauge impact for student success.”
At Pine Knot Primary, only student scores in the third grade are counted toward the overall accountability, and in only two subjects: reading and math.
PKP reading scores show 43.9 percent of students tested at proficient or distinguished, with 54.7 the state average. 35.3 tested at p/d in math, compared to 49.2 percent in Kentucky.
Wright said changes made over the past years have played a part in the improvement, and sees further changes that will provide a strong foundation for the students.
“Ms. Anita Coffey, currently the Interim Principal, along with all of the staff have retooled their focus to enhance the capability of providing immediate response in regard to student test data,” Wright said. “The school has adopted the practice of “Naming and Claiming” students in their effort to provide immediate change in instruction. Redirecting current resources will play a large role in helping to meet individual student needs and will have a positive impact on both Whitley City and Pine Knot Primary Schools.”
To view school data and report cards, please visit: www.http://applications.education.ky.gov/SRC/