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Scores better, but not enough

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Only Saffell, Turner meet goals; writing scores decrease across district

By Meaghan Downs

Anderson County Public Schools showed mixed results in critical content areas, improving in math and reading but still failing to meet adequate yearly progress for the third year in a row.
The Kentucky Core Content Tests (KCCT) are in its final year as state benchmarks for Kentucky schools, as the state transitions to its K-PREP accountability system for third through eighth graders.
New testing standards at the high school level will emphasize college and career readiness scores, which encompass multiple testing standards including the ACT and end of course assessments, rather than just reading and math proficiency.
Forty-five percent of 2010 Anderson County seniors were considered career or college ready, according reports released by the Kentucky Department of Education. The state average was 42 percent.
This is a considerable improvement from last year, when only 24 percent of Anderson County seniors were considered career or college ready.
“We’re pleased with the gain, but we’re certainly not finished,” Sharon Jackman, instructional supervisor, said. “This race isn’t over.”
Graduation rates for Anderson County High School have been decreasing for the last three years, down 1.1 percent for the class of 2010 from 2009.
Anderson County High School also did not meet adequate yearly progress standards for KCCT for the third year in a row, with only Saffell Street and Robert B. Turner elementary schools meeting their goals for this year.
This is the second year the middle school did not meet AYP, and the first year for Emma B. Ward elementary.  
Jackson and Superintendent Sheila Mitchell said the district’s reading scores improved by 2.25 percent, while district math scores improved by 6.32 percent.
Combined reading and math averages for individual Anderson County Public Schools increased, according to data released by the Kentucky Department of Education:
• Anderson County High School: 59.56 percent    
• Anderson County Middle School: 72.10 percent
• Emma B. Ward elementary: 80.12 percent
• Robert B. Turner elementary: 79.70 percent
• Saffell Street elementary: 78.06 percent
Both the high school and the middle school, as institutions that failed to meet the yearly progress standard for KCCT, are eligible for state assistance.
Anderson County’s interim performance report, based on KCCT results and other testing components, collates testing information from elementary, middle and high schools based on content areas and performance levels in reading, writing, math, science and social studies.
According to Jackman, Emma B. Ward elementary met 11 out of 13 goals and achieved its highest score in science since 2007, but decreased 15.8 points in reading and 11.49 points in math for students with disabilities.
Saffell Street elementary met all goals and increased 13.8 points in math, with free and reduced lunch students increasing scores by 22.7 points.
Robert B. Turner elementary met all target goals, but declined in reading and on-demand writing scores.
The middle school met 12 out of 13 target goals and increased in every subject area, but still failed to meet math testing standards for students with disabilities.
The high school met 10 out of 11 target goals and increased in reading, math, science and social studies. On-demand writing, however, declined 1.44 points from 2010-2011.
Writing across the district needs improvement, Mitchell and Jackman said, with more emphasize being made for instructors to look for learning targets. Instructors need to be able to translate state standards into clear objectives communicated to the students.
“One of the 21st century skills is to be able to communicate verbally and in writing,” Jackman said. “Rigor goes along with those learning targets.”

AP scores for high school
Anderson County high school students taking the Advanced Placement exam have increased 43 percent from 2007 to 2011.
Approximately 286 students took the AP exam in 2011, as opposed to 123 in 2007.
The AP exam, scored on a scale of 1-5 with 3 or higher considered passing, is a college-level course examination usually taken by students who have completed study in an advanced placement course.
More Anderson County students are also achieving scores of 3 or higher on the AP exam, up 112 students from 2007.