Officials of Harlan Independent School District announced school and district scores on the state assessment provided by the Kentucky Department of Education earlier today. Test results are from the state assessment and accountability system, known as K-PREP, which was implemented during the 2011-12 school year.
The new testing system is based on new state academic standards which have been deemed to be more rigorous and demanding by state and local education officials. As predicted by officials, scores around the state are lower than in previous years when tests were based on older standards.
“As we thought, scores are lower than in previous years across the state and in our schools but that is to be expected with new standards and a new testing system,” stated Harlan Independent superintendent David Johnson. “The same thing happened in the past when new standards and new tests were put in place by the state.”
Despite the lower scores, Johnson expressed pleasure with many of the district and school scores for Harlan Independent Schools.
Harlan Independent School District received an overall score of 64.5 which ranked the district at the 93rd percentile as compared to all other school districts in Kentucky. Because it ranked within the top 90 percent, Harlan Independent Schools is classified as a Distinguished District and is included in the rewards category as a “Highest Performing District”.
Harlan Middle School also received distinction as a Distinguished School and is listed as a “Highest Performing School” with a score of 66.2 which ranks it at the 92nd percentile of middle schools in the state.
Harlan High School is classified as a Proficient School with a score of 63.7 which ranked the school at the 87th percentile. Harlan Elementary School earned a score of 61.0 which ranked it at the 63rd percentile. Schools below the 70th percentile are classified as Needs Improvement.
“Overall, we are pleased with the classifications and rankings of the district and Harlan Middle/High School,” said Johnson. “Still, we realize that we have a lot of work to do in order to assure that all of our students are ready for college or careers after graduation. I am confident that our staff can meet this challenge as they have with others in the past.”
Academic content areas tested include reading, math, science, social studies, writing, and language mechanics. Student performance levels on these exams continue to be (from lowest to highest) Novice, Apprentice, Proficient and Distinguished.
On the previous state assessment, the district goal was to have at least 75 percent of students score Proficient or Distinguished on content area tests and to have no students score Novice. Superintendent Johnson emphasized that students were able to reach this goal in several areas on the new test. Seventy-five percent or more students scored at the highest two performance levels in middle school Science and Social Studies and high school reading and writing. There were no Novice student scores in fourth grade Science, eighth grade Social Studies, and tenth grade Writing.
“In general,” Johnson continued, “our students exceeded the state average in nearly every category assessed at every level but average is not our goal and we know that our families and our community expect and need more than that. We want all of our children, regardless of their circumstances, to be prepared for success when they leave our schools and I’m confident our staff will work to meet that goal under these new standards and systems.”
Johnson noted that there is still much to learn from the test information released by the state department of education. Accountability scores at all levels include measures of academic performance of students, performance of at-risk students, and the academic improvement of students from year to year. Middle and high school students are also measured on readiness for college and careers and high schools are accountable for graduation rates.
“In the past, we looked primarily at scores on tests,” said Johnson. “We will still look at how our students performed on the academic tests but we have to review and understand much more information and how it impacts our schools and students. We will begin work on this immediately and will make the necessary adjustments.”
Test results and rankings for all public schools and districts are available at the Kentucky Department of Education website at http://openhouse.education.ky.gov/ .