School district ‘needs improvement’ in writing

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State releases district program review results for arts and humanities, practical living and writing

By Meaghan Downs

Three out of six Anderson County schools were reported as “proficient” in writing following the publication of program review data self-reported by Kentucky school districts and released at the end of October by the Kentucky Department of Education.
Ezra Sparrow Early Childhood Center, Robert B. Turner Elementary and Saffell Street Elementary all scored high enough to be considered “proficient” while the Anderson County High School, middle school and Emma B. Ward were labeled as “needs improvement” in writing, according to the Kentucky Department of Education’s data.
Anderson County Instructional Supervisor Sharon Jackman said program reviews are important because all three programs chosen this year — writing, practical living and career studies and arts and humanities — apply to career readiness.
“Traditional paper-and-pencil tests limit the evaluation of what students learn,” Jackman said via e-mail. “With program reviews, schools have more flexibility. Students can experience the content and demonstrate their knowledge, skills and understanding in non-traditional ways.”
Jackman said based on Anderson County’s results, strengths in the programs reviewed this year were in curriculum and instruction standards.
Across the district, however, there is room for improvement in professional development and assessment of the district’s programs.
 “We will continue to use our data to identify our strengths, weaknesses and areas of growth to assist us toward continuous improvement for our students in Anderson County,” Jackman said in an e-mail. “Program reviews help each school focus on these important areas so that everyone in the school can contribute to improvement.”
Program review scores will be added to the district’s existing accountability results, reported this past October, and the district will need to adjust its assessment goals for the upcoming round of testing in the spring.
The program reviews will account for 23 percent of a school’s overall accountability score, while 77 percent will be assigned to college- and career-readiness as well as individual student test results.
The new accountability target goals will be sent to the Anderson County school district from the Kentucky Department of Education later this month, Jackman said.
District personnel self-evaluated their programs based on criteria including curriculum, professional development, assessment and administrative leadership on a scale of 0-3, with the lowest score being “non-existent” and the highest as “distinguished.”
All four criteria scores were added together for an overall total point score from 0-12.
Schools that achieved an average score higher than 10.8 were rated distinguished; scores 8-10.7 resulted in a proficient rating while scores below 7 resulted in a “needs improvement” rating.
Ezra Sparrow Early Childhood Center reported the lowest score for arts and humanities programs in the district, at 4.2 out of 12, while Robert B. Turner Elementary submitted a perfect score of 12 for its program.
For practical living and career studies, the district received an overall proficient classification.
Anderson County High School submitted a score of 10 for the highest proficient rating for its practical living and career studies programs. The middle school tied with Turner for the next highest score, at 7.5, but received a “needs improvement” rating.
Each Anderson County school has formed a committee to conduct the three program reviews, Jackman said, and the reviews are an ongoing, yearlong process.
Staff contributes to the process of evidence collection for the program reviews, including student work, videos of performances, professional development documents, questionnaires and other information, she said.
According to a press release from the Kentucky Department of Education, program reviews of schools’ kindergarten through third grade programs and world language programs are scheduled to be added later.