Heath Elementary, Hendron-Lone Oak Elementary, Lone Oak Elementary and Reidland Elementary - all schools in the McCracken County School District - earned the highest rating of five stars in a new accountability system made public today by the Kentucky Department of Education.
Those schools are among 37 elementary schools statewide and 56 schools overall to earn the highest rating in a system that uses last year's Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP) assessment data and 2018-19 indicators like achievement gaps based on race, family income and native English speakers and non-native English speakers.
In the rating system, schools and school district areas receive one to five stars (there are no fractional stars) based on a formula using that information. Schools earning four or five stars can lose a star based on significant achievement gaps. Factors that go into a school or district's rating are proficiency in reading, math, social studies, science and writing; academic growth or progress from year to year; transition readiness and graduation rate. Some factors apply only to elementary, middle or high schools.
The rating system will be used to designate schools that are Comprehensive Support and Instructive (CSI), which are among the bottom 5 percent in the state, or Target Support and Instructive (TSI), which have student subgroups performing notably lower than other students. Those designations will take place in the 2020-21 school year and will be based on previous years' data.
The new accountability system complies with the requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2017 and follows the U.S. Department of Education's guidance on measures in each of the required indicators and for the identification of schools.
School districts earned overall ratings for their elementary, middle and high schools. The McCracken County district's other elementary schools earned four stars with no achievement gaps, but its middle schools earned a three-star rating with a noted achievement gap with disabled students.
Two MCSD schools - McCracken County High School and Lone Oak Intermediate School - each dropped a star to a three-star rating due to achievement gaps with African-American students. MCHS also had a notable achievement gap with disabled students.
At McCracken County High School, 61.8 percent of white students reached proficient or distinguished levels in reading while 9.5 percent of African-American students reached those levels. In math, 50.6 percent of white students and 19 percent of African-American students reached those levels. In science, 23.3 percent of white students reached those levels, while none of the African-American students did.
Also at MCHS, 62.8 percent of students without disabilities reached the proficient or distinguished levels in reading while 23.9 percent of students with disabilities did. In math, 52.7 percent of students with disabilities and 14 percent of those with disabilities reached those levels, while in science, 23.8 percent of students without disabilities and 11.1 percent of those with disabilities reached those levels.
At LOIS, 66.8 percent of white students and 20.7 percent of African-American students achieved those levels in math, while 75.9 percent of white students and 37.9 percent of African-American students reached those levels in reading and 46.7 percent of white students and 20 percent of African-American students did so in science.
"We're excited about (having four schools with a five-star rating)," said MCSD Superintendent Steve Carter. "To have that many in McCracken County and only 37 elementaries across the state - our district had more than 10 percent of them - it's something to be excited about.
"However, there were some gaps, and we're going to get in there and identify what caused those gaps and come up with a plan to address that, whether it's counseling, identification or something else. We'll modify some practices but not really change a lot of things because what we're doing is working really, really well."
Carter noted the district had four five-star schools and three four-star schools, not counting the two that dropped to three-star ratings due to achievement gaps.
For Paducah Independent School District, most elementary schools, its middle school and its high school all received a two-star rating. Each individual school received a two-star rating except for Clark Elementary, which received a three-star rating but had a notable achievement gap with African-American students. Paducah Tilghman High School had a notable achievement gap with African-American and economically disadvantaged students.
At Clark, 78.8 percent of white students reached proficient or distinguished levels in reading while 42.7 percent of African-American students did the same. In math, 62.4 percent of white students and 14.6 percent of African-American students reached those levels, and in science, 63 percent of white students and 13.8 percent of African-American students did the same.
At PTHS, 57.7 percent of white students and 19.5 percent of African-American students reached those levels in reading, while 52.9 percent of white students and 8.1 percent of African-American students did so in math and 40.9 percent of white students and 3.6 percent of African-American students did so in science.
"Our district has demonstrated consistent improvement over the past eight years under the old state accountability system, becoming a proficient district with a distinguished high school," said PISD Assistant Superintendent Will Black. "The new state ratings system - which was finalized last month - represents a new baseline based on new state priorities. Now that the new state accountability system is in place, we will focus on improving based on these new priorities. As always, we remain committed to meeting the comprehensive needs of each and every child."