Tribune-Courier News Editor
The Marshall County School District placed 12th out of 174 school districts across the state in K-PREP school evaluations.
Schools were evaluated on more factors than testing. Kem Cothran, secondary supervisor for education, said other standards used to evaluate schools include services to children of low-income families and special education students, growth in performance, ACT testing scores, college and vocational readiness programs and graduation rates. Achievement tests were also weighted in students’ overall grades. At high school levels, achievement tests served as cumulative finals.
Cothran said schools and the district receive an actual score based on a possible 100 points. This score is compared to other schools and other districts and ranked in a percentile.
According to a Marshall County Schools press release, Benton Elementary School received the highest score of 77 points, placing them in the 99-percentile rank against other schools. This placed it ninth in the state against 734 elementary schools.
Benton Middle School followed with a score of 73.7 points and in the top 98th percentile. This places it sixth out of 334 middle schools. Also recognized as distinguished schools were Jonathan and Sharpe elementary schools. Jonathan received 70.0 points, ranking in the 92nd percentile. Sharpe placed in the 90 percentile with a score of 70.2.
Earning recognition as proficient were Central Elementary and South Marshall Middle School. South Marshall Middle placed in the 89th percentile of Kentucky schools with 64.8 points. Central Elementary was also in the 89th percentile with 69.7 points. According to the press release, both schools missed a distinguished ranking by one percentile point.
North Marshall Middle School was recognized as proficient with 64.4 points and in the 87th percentile. Marshall County High School also reached proficient by the K-PREP standards with 59.8 points and placing in the 76th percentile among Kentucky high schools.
South Marshall Elementary School and Calvert City Elementary School were both identified as needing improvement by falling beneath the 70th percentile benchmark. South Marshall scored 58.2 points putting it into the 52nd percentile. Calvert scored 56.2 points falling into the 43rd percentile.
According to the press release, distributed by Russ Buchanan, the district’s community information officer, both of these schools have identified areas of growth and are in the process of changing practices to ensure the growth of every student.
“Reading, English and math standards have all changed and will be more rigorous,” Cothran said. “We’re using standards used in 48 other states. There won’t be a huge difference in science because we are already aligned with national standards. The state is working on a social studies standard, but it shouldn’t change much.”
Rather than testing students twice to measure school performance for state standards and federal No Child Left Behind benchmarks, the new tests will meet both requirements, Cothran said.
Diane Barga, principal of Benton Elementary, said her school, from students to faculty, were excited by the news released on Nov. 2.
“Our motto is, ‘We believe in every student,’ and we work with them every day as individuals,” Barga said. “We have high expectations with our teachers and students and do our best for our kids.”
Barga said this year’s high-scoring performance sets the bar higher for next year. Benton Elementary must score a half-point more than this year.
“There are three golden rules we follow: instructional rigor, student engagement and formative assessment,” Barga said. “We want to focus on the strength of our lessons, keep students engaged in the lesson and provide constant checks on what students have learned to provide a guide to what teachers are doing.”
Acting Superintendent Ruthetta Buchanan said she has not yet had a chance to break down scores to identify strengths and deficiencies.
“My feeling is the schools that performed extremely well had rigorous instruction that was closely tied to the core content,” Ruthetta Buchanan said.
While on personal leave, Superintendent Trent Lovett released a statement about the K-PREP scores.
“I am very proud of all of our schools, however we are not satisfied,” Lovett said. “We will continue to work on areas of weakness to ensure Marshall County is a premier school district in the nation.”