District nearly doubles number of Distinguished schools

It was a year of exciting gains for an already high-performing district, Oldham County Schools officials said after the release of 2014 Unbridled Learning state accountability results this week.

The Unbridled Learning system evaluates schools and districts using data from the KPREP assessment, college and career readiness and graduation rates. 
Oldham County Schools is ranked in the 98th percentile statewide and a “distinguished” district, according the results from the spring assessments. Last year, the district was in the 95th percentile. Distinguished is the highest rank, awarded to those schools and districts in the top 10 percent of the state.
Eleven schools scored at the distinguished level this year, up from six schools last year, with scores ranging from the 93rd to 99th percentiles. In addition, five schools scored at the proficient level, including two schools that moved into the category from “needs improvement” last year. One school remains in the needs improvement category but showed significant increases in the “growth” category, which looks at reading and math — areas that the school focused on last year.
“These are substantial gains pretty much across the board for Oldham County Schools and they speak to our focus on continuous improvement,” said Leslie Robertson, the district’s Director of Academic Support. “Even with our schools at the highest levels, we saw significant gains.”
Robertson said the district’s schools are narrowing the gaps for students categorized in typically “underperforming” sub-populations, including free/reduced lunch, limited English proficiency, disability, African-American, Hispanic and Native American.
“As we see the proficiency levels of students in these different groups increase, our overall achievement and growth scores increase right along with them,” Robertson said.
Two schools are considered “focus” schools because of their gap scores and will develop plans to address those deficiencies.
“The size of our gaps varies among schools, but across the board we are seeing all schools closing those gaps,” Robertson said. “What we see is that teachers are keeping the focus on students and learning.”
Robertson noted that the students tested changes each year — so while you can compare scores from year-to-year, it’s important to keep in mind those scores reflect individual students. She said the district notes increases or decreases, but does not focus on minor fluctuations from year to year.
Superintendent Will Wells said he is excited to see such widespread growth. “We don’t focus on the assessment or on labels, but the Unbridled Learning system provides us with data that helps us drill down on areas in which we can improve.” 
For school and district report cards, please visit the Kentucky Department of Education website. Students will receive their individual report cards around the end of October.

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