Lexington's William Wells Brown Elementary School scored the lowest among elementary schools statewide in Kentucky's testing and accountability program in 2013-14, according to results released Friday.
Its score of 34.4 out of 100, which drew promises of swift action from district leaders, was not the only disappointment for Fayette County Public Schools.
While the district raised its overall score from 65.4 in 2013 to 67, it missed the proficiency benchmark it had in 2012-13 by one-half point and was classified as "needs improvement."
On a more positive note, four schools — SCAPA at Bluegrass, and Veterans Park, Picadome and Rosa Parks elementaries outscored 99 percent of schools in Kentucky.
"This year's test scores give us many reasons to celebrate," Superintendent Tom Shelton said. "They also include a call to roll up our sleeves and improve what we are doing in some areas."
Shelton said most schools saw increases in the areas of student achievement, but the addition of program reviews — a self-assessment completed by a team of educators in each school that scores it against a state rubric — to the accountability formula lowered the state rankings of many Fayette County schools.
Shelton explained that across the state, 64 percent of schools gave themselves perfect markings in program reviews. In Fayette County, only 25 percent of schools rated themselves high enough to receive the full 23 points, he said.
"We held ourselves to a very high standard," Shelton said. "Our goal is to provide world-class programs and instruction, and we graded ourselves with that in mind."
State education officials cautioned against making comparisons with last year because of the program reviews.
Meanwhile, Shelton said a team would be working at William Wells Brown Elementary to provide additional resources and develop a plan of action.
Although the overall accountability score at William Wells Brown fell, district officials said, the school did have increases in reading and math. Last year was Jay Jones' first as principal, and he said he and teachers have been working hard. Jones said that while the overall scores did not reflect it, "we do have more proficient kids in reading than we had before."
District teams also will be placed at other schools with lower test scores — the Academy for Leadership at Millcreek, Booker T. Washington Academy, Cardinal Valley and James Lane Allen elementary schools, and Bryan Station and Crawford middle schools.
Bill Farmer, president of United Way of the Bluegrass, said he would be recruiting 400 volunteers — one adult for every child — to work with students at William Wells Brown. He said he wanted to expand that commitment to other low-performing schools.
No Fayette County high school reached the highest status of distinguished, but at least 13 other schools in the district did.
Of the 51 Fayette County Public Schools that received accountability ratings, 29 were classified as "needs improvement." Twenty-two schools were labeled as "focus schools" because certain student demographic groups were performing at much lower levels than the same demographic groups in the rest of the state.
Bryan Station High School remained a "needs improvement" and a "priority," or persistently low achieving school. But the school made significant gains in the area of college and career readiness, increasing from 40.6 points in 2012-13 to 61.9 points for 2013-14.
Picadome Elementary's overall test score went up 13.5 points, putting it in the top 1 percent statewide.
"We just simply approached it kid by kid," said principal Jennifer Hutchison. "We want our kids to succeed. Our staff is willing to go above and beyond to make that happen."