Majority of schools have made progress

The percentage of Kentucky public schools that met federal goals fell slightly from last year, according to statewide student test results released Wednesday, but education officials said that could be misleading.

The results show that statewide, 696 Kentucky public schools — or 60.2 percent — made Adequate Yearly Progress goals for 2008-09 under the federal No Child Left Behind program. For the 2007-2008 school year, 72.9 percent of the state's public schools made AYP.

But state education department officials said during a briefing in Frankfort on Tuesday that new, higher goals for reading and mathematics probably helped depress scores and contributed to the lower percentage of Kentucky schools meeting AYP for '08-'09.

Overall, 464 schools failed to make AYP this time. Even so, 228 of them did make 80 percent or more of their goals, officials said.

Statewide, 110 Title 1 schools will face consequences under NCLB.

One school, Jefferson County's Thomas Jefferson Middle School, now has failed to meet NCLB standards for nine consecutive years. But it faces no stiffer consequences than schools that have missed only seven years.

Some 26 schools, including Lexington's Bryan Station High School, have missed NCLB goals for seven straight years. Eight schools have failed for five consecutive years, including three in Central Kentucky: Crawford and Leestown middle schools in Lexington and East Jessamine Middle School in Jessamine County.

Some 72 Kentucky school districts will be subject to NCLB consequences, state officials said.

Statewide results from the Kentucky Core Content Tests showed increases in the percentage of students scoring at the highest performance levels — proficient and distinguished, in almost every subject and grade level.

Wednesday's results are the first to be released under Kentucky's new interim statewide testing system that is being used in place of the old CATS system. The Kentucky General Assembly closed out the CATS program last spring and ordered the creation of a new testing and accountability system. The interim program will be used until the new system is ready in the 2011-12 school year.

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said the latest results — which are from tests that Kentucky students took in May — will help teachers, educators, school-based councils and parents find ways to improve scores next year.

"Our focus will be on the low-performers, those schools and districts that are struggling," Holliday said. "We have systems in place to help those schools, and there will be federal money available next school year."

Every public school in Kentucky has scores in Wednesday's results except one: Belfry Middle School in Pike County. Belfry Middle's completed test materials were destroyed by flooding last spring, and the school was unable to re-test its students. Some other Pike County schools reported only partial test results because of the same problems.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader