Test results released Thursday by the Kentucky Department of Education provoked Fayette Superintendent Manny Caulk to say he would hire an outside independent agency to conduct a scholastic audit of low performing schools in the district.
A new state law outlines a new process for the state to identify and support schools where student achievement does not meet standards. “Fayette County is not waiting for an external accountability system, and now that we have this last piece of data in hand, we will be issuing an RFP for a scholastic audit of eligible schools,” Caulk said.
“We’re moving faster and more aggressively to do something different to support our schools immediately. We are committed to using all the tools available to dramatically improve our schools in need,” he said.
Caulk did not specify any school that would receive an audit or get extra support. But state test scores show that among the schools in Fayette County with significant percentages of students performing at the lowest level of math and reading are Booker T. Washington, William Wells Brown and Arlington elementary schools and Bryan Station High School.
In addition, Yates, Mary Todd, Northern, Russell Cave and Cardinal Valley elementary schools have more than 40 percent of their students testing at the lowest levels in reading. Also Crawford Middle and Deep Springs Elementary schools struggle to get students performing well at high levels with only one-quarter achieving proficient or distinguished levels in math.
“The data released by the Kentucky Department of Education today provides another piece of evidence for the district to use when gauging how well our schools are meeting the needs of the students we serve,” said Caulk.
“While the data demonstrates that many of our students are getting a great education, we have high expectations for every student. We will not be content until we can say with confidence that every child is reaching his or her unlimited potential,” Caulk said.“To ensure that, we assemble measures from multiple sources to help us develop a full picture of student success in each school and then tailor our supports accordingly.”
He said the district began using the Measures of Academic Progress — called MAP for short — to assess student progress three times a year in every school in the district and monitor growth to see if our students are mastering the content they need to be successful in school and beyond.
Based on those scores and other data points, the district had already taken steps to intensify support at schools where student achievement was not meeting expectations. During his first year as superintendent Caulk said he implemented the concept of “Partnership Zones” where schools are assigned support teams that meet regularly at the school and receive additional resources, such as more staffing and extended learning for students.
Caulk said some schools have already been assigned a school based instructional specialist, in addition to a support team, and embedded professional learning for teachers, a leadership coach for principals and extended summer learning for students. .
Caulk said that in some elementary schools, more than 80 percent of the children entering school are deemed ready for kindergarten, but in others, close to 90 percent of the incoming kindergartners did not meet state readiness benchmarks. Last week, the district launched First 5 Lex, a community partnership to support school readiness.
Caulk said that some data that the district uses to measure progress had been positive. One was ACT scores, where he said last year's Fayette County juniors posted the highest average composite scores over the last 5 years of testing, and earned increases in reading, math, science and the composite scores. He said ACT scores continue to outpace the state. He said that in Advanced Placement scores, 72.9 percent of students earned passing scores of 3, 4 or 5, compared with only 49.7 percent in the state.