This year's Kentucky School Report Cards, for the 2018-2019 school year, were recently released and although it doesn't look great for Marshall County schools, district representatives said they're owning the scores as they work to continue to improve the education of students.

A press release issued by Marshall County Schools Instructional Supervisor Abby Griffy states the Kentucky Accountability System results for Marshall County indicate increased performance for some schools as well as areas for growth for others. She explained the three categories used to rank the elementary schools, Proficiency, Separate Academic Indicator, and Growth, are calculated based on the results of the end of the year KPREP test while the high school's overall score is calculated by using Proficiency from the ACT, Separate Academic Indicator from science and writing KPREP test, Transition Readiness and Graduation rate.

Marshall County Schools Superintendent Trent Lovett said, "The results of this test indicate we have several areas of growth, although some schools did see increases from the prior year. In the past, our main educational driver throughout the school year was to prepare students to do well on the end of the year state test. It became our driving force and we were very good at the type of education needed for many students to score at high levels on that test. And while we take full ownership of these results and value the data, we made a decision a few years ago to change our direction."

Lovett said in 2015, after spending much time studying research, school administrators realized it was imperative to "develop the whole child" and at that time changed the focus from teaching the test to providing students with opportunities to develop the future-ready skills they must have in order to be successful in life.

"This does not mean we have abandoned our state standards, but we did ask teachers to begin to teach differently," he explained. "In all of our schools, we are continuing our work to implement effective project-based learning and personalized learning. We continue to seek out training opportunities for not only our teachers but also our school and district administrators so we can provide support."

Lovett said the change in direction has resulted in students working together to develop programs to honor veterans, conduct local candidate debates, developed a healthy meal for a local business, use engineering skills to invent new products, create machines to help farmers, develop new business models, lead service projects to help those in need and even hold the trial of Julius Caesar at the county courthouse, just to name a few. He said many of the elementary and middle school students have also participated in learning defenses which require them to present to a panel of adults while using evidence of learning to support their strengths and areas of growth based on the future ready skills identified in our graduate profile; the students also have to answer questions posed by the panel and receive feedback from that panel as well, a process which allows students to exhibit their growth and allows teachers to witness the fruits of their labor, he explained.

"Another benefit of focusing on the whole child is the awareness we now have on the social-emotional needs of our students. Rest assured, the well-being and success of our students, which includes their growth of academic and future ready skills, is our number one priority," he added. "While we believe one standardized test does not paint the most accurate picture of the range of life skills our students are developing, or the remarkable learning opportunities our teachers develop for students, these results remain an important piece of the puzzle to help develop improvement plans so we can continue to grow in order to better serve our students. As always, we appreciate our parents and the community's support of our children and our schools."

The star rating system utilized for the scores released by the Kentucky Department of Education reviewed a number of factors including attendance rates, demographics of the student base including those economically advantaged and disadvantaged, students who participate in gifted and talented programs, the number of "behavior events" and how those events are handled by the school and then an academic breakdown.

The academic breakdown of categories, listed as "accountability data" on the report cards, includes proficiency, defined as reaching the desired level of knowledge and skills as measured on state-required academic assessments, designed to measure how students achieve on Kentucky's Academic Standards in reading and mathematics; separate academic indicator which is determined by reaching the desired level of knowledge and skills in science, social studies and writing in elementary and middle schools, and science and writing at high school; growth, which is based on a comparison of student performance from one year to the next in reading and mathematics on a scale of 0-300 with the number of points increasing as growth increases--a calculation only determined at elementary and middle school levels.

Two of the categories only apply to high school students: transition ready requires students to earn a high school diploma and meet one type of readiness (academic or career), and English learners must attain English language proficiency; graduation rate looks for the percentage of students earning a diploma in four-five years compared to the group of students who began high school in grade 9.

The Marshall County School District's overview statistics revealed a 94.9% attendance rate; 53.1% of the student body identified as economically disadvantaged and the non-economically disadvantaged children are outperforming the economically disadvantaged by more than 20% in most cases; the school safety data reported 7.3% of students have "behavior events" while 92.7% do not and of the students with discipline resolutions, 2.3% receive out-of-school suspensions while 5.7% receive in-school removal.

The district is listed as including 13 schools serving 4,496 students for the 2018-2019 school year.

Overall, with five stars being the highest ranking achievable, the elementary schools ranked three of five stars with low proficiency at 66.4/125 where the state average was medium 70.4/125; low separate academic at 56.1/125 where the state average was medium 64.7/125; and low growth at 54.6/300 where the state average was medium at 57.7/300.

Overall the middle schools ranked two of five stars with low proficiency at 64.3/125 where the state average was medium 72.3/125; low separate academic at 54.7/125 where the state average was medium 63.3/125; and low growth rate at 46.9/300 where the state average was medium with 52.5/300.

The overall score for high school ranking was three of five stars with medium proficiency at 58.3/125 where the state average was medium proficiency at 56.8/125; medium separate academic with 65.2/125 where the state average was medium with 62/125; low transition readiness with 60.4/125 where the state average was low with 66.8/125; and medium graduation rate of 94.6/100 where the state average was ranked low with 91.1/100.

Benton Elementary School ranked three of five stars: medium in proficiency with a 73.5/125 where the state ranked medium with a 70.4/125; medium in separate academic with a 65.3/125 where the state ranked medium with 64.7/125; medium in growth with a 56.6/300 where the state ranked medium with 57.7/300. The school ranked higher than the district's scores across the board and served 489 students with a 95.8% attendance rate, 54.6% of the student body economically disadvantaged and 7.8% in gifted and talented program.

Calvert Elementary School ranked one of five stars: low in proficiency with a 56.1/125 where the state ranked medium with a 70.4/125; very low in separate academic with a 38.6/125 where the state ranked medium with 64.7/125; very low in growth with a 41.5/300 where the state ranked medium with 57.7/300. The school ranked lower than the district's scores across the board and served 275 students with a 95.6% attendance rate, 62.5% of the student body economically disadvantaged and 9.8% in gifted and talented program.

Central Elementary ranked three of five stars: medium in proficiency with a 68.7/125 where the state ranked medium with a 70.4/125; low in separate academic with a 57.4/125 where the state ranked medium with 64.7/125; low in growth with a 53.2/300 where the state ranked medium with 57.7/300. The school ranked higher than the district's scores in proficiency and separate academic but lower in growth and served 482 students with a 95.3% attendance rate, 50.8% of the student body economically disadvantaged and 8.3% in gifted and talented.

Jonathan Elementary ranked two of five stars: low in proficiency with a 56.6/125 where the state ranked medium with a 70.4/125; low in separate academic with a 52.4/125 where the state ranked medium with 64.7/125; medium in growth with a 57.2/300 where the state ranked medium with 57.7/300. The school ranked lower than the district's scores in proficiency and separate academic but higher in growth and served 209 students with a 95% attendance rate, 70.3% of the student body economically disadvantaged and 11.5% in gifted and talented.

Sharpe Elementary ranked three of five stars: medium in proficiency with a 72.2/125 where the state ranked 70.4/125; medium in separate academic with 64.9/125 where the state ranked medium with 64.7/125; low in growth with 52.6/300 where the state ranked medium with 57.7/300. The school ranked higher than the district in proficiency and separate academic but lower in growth and served 288 students with a 96.3% attendance rate, 47.2% of the student body economically disadvantaged and 10.8% in gifted and talented.

South Marshall Elementary ranked two of five stars: low in proficiency with a 61.9/125 where the state ranked 70.4/125; very low in separate academic with 46.5/125 where the state ranked medium with 64.7/125; high in growth with 64.8/300 where the state ranked medium with 57.7/300. The school ranked lower than the district in proficiency and separate academic but higher than the district in growth and served 285 students with a 95.4% attendance rate, 69.8% of the student body economically disadvantaged and 7.4% in gifted and talented.

North Marshall Middle School ranked two of five stars: low in proficiency with a 62.9/125 where the state ranked medium with 72.3/125; low in separate academic with 57.5/125 where the state ranked medium with 63.3/125; very low in growth with 45.9/300 where the state ranked medium with 52.5/300. The school ranked lower than the district in proficiency and growth, but higher in separate academic and served 543 students with a 94.7% attendance rate, 49.7% of the student body economically disadvantaged and 13.8% in gifted and talented.

South Marshall Middle School ranked two out of five stars: low in proficiency with a 67/125 where the state ranked medium with 72.3/125; low in separate academic with 52.5/125 where the state ranked medium with 63.3/125; low in growth with 48.5/300 where the state ranked medium with 52.5/300. The school ranked higher than the district in proficiency and growth but lower than the district in separate academic and served 496 students with a 94.6% attendance rate, 52.2% of the student body economically disadvantaged and 13.3% in gifted and talented.

Marshall County High School ranked three of five stars: medium in proficiency with a 60.2/125 where the state is ranked medium with a 56.8/125; medium in separate academic with a 66.2/125 where the state ranked medium with 62/125; low in transition readiness with a 62.7/125 where the state ranked low with 66.8/125; very high in graduation rate with a 97.1/100 where the state ranked low with 91.1/100. The school ranked higher than the district's score in proficiency but lower in separate academic, higher in transition readiness and graduation rate and served 1,288 students with a 93.9% attendance rate, 45.3% of the student body economically disadvantaged and15.4% in gifted and talented.

Marshall County Technical School, MC@HOME, Purchase Youth Village and Star Academy High School did not receive individual star ratings because the state doesn't include career and technical education centers, pre-schools through grade 2 and schools which are not considered A1 schools in the star ranking system. An A1 school is under administrative control of a principal or head teacher and eligible to establish a school-based decision making council. An A1 school is not a program operated by, or as part of, another school.