Danville Schools get report card
Published 9:25 am Saturday, October 22, 2022
The Danville Independent School District is reviewing the School Report Card released by the Kentucky Department of Education, which includes assessment data from the 2021-2022 school year.
This is the first time since 2019 that there has been a full year of testing data released.
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On Oct. 10, Kentucky Commissioner of Education Jason Glass said about scores statewide, “The scores are not where we would like for them to be, but they are in line with what we are seeing across the country after two years of learning disrupted by the COVID pandemic. We are looking at these results as a new baseline from where we will try to get our students moving forward quickly. Now that we know where our students are, let’s keep focusing on how to keep moving ahead to help make up for the unfinished learning over the past two years.”
Kentucky’s new accountability system uses academic and school measures to reflect performance scores of schools, districts and the state. It uses a color-coded rating system, with red, orange, yellow, green and blue — red the lowest and blue the highest.
For Danville High School, the overall rating is yellow (medium). The Reading & Mathematics Indicator Rating is yellow, and the Science, Social Studies and Writing Indicator Rating is orange (low). The Quality of School Climate and Safety Indicator Rating is orange. The Postsecondary Readiness Indicator is orange, and the Graduation Indicator is yellow.
Principal Chad Luhman said DHS has made significant leaps in transition readiness and other gains compared to the 2020-2021 year.
“Our postsecondary success has been buoyed through partnerships with Boyle County Bluegrass Community and Technical College and the University of Kentucky,” he said. “Our students have the opportunity to engage in training for pathways such as nursing, welding, education, engineering, business and management, marketing, computer science, and many more. We are cultivating the potential of all our students to become successful and productive citizens in our community. Another component that improved student performance in the transition readiness metrics was the implementation of a strategic plan to prepare students for the ACT.”
Students have also made gains in reading and math thanks to the quality of their instruction, he said.
“Coming out of the pandemic, the staff at DHS narrowed our focus on the five components of reading: phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension,” he said.
This plan included using a universal screener during their FLEX time, which is time set aside each day to “support students academically, plus socially and emotionally,” Luhman said.
DHS staff is also focused on novice reduction goals and being more intentional in standard alignment.
For example, Superintendent Dr. Greg Ross said Luhman and DHS Instructional Specialist Shelby Cameron were aware they needed strengthening in science scores before the school year even began, and they were proactive.
“They focused heavily on getting a viable science curriculum that was not only competitive from a regional standpoint but competitive on a national level,” he said. “They also spend a lot of time providing resources and building their science instructional team.”
John W. Bate Middle School ranked yellow for its overall score, like DHS. The Reading & Mathematics Indicator Rating is yellow, and the Science, Social Studies & Writing Indicator Rating is orange. The Quality of School Climate and Safety Indicator Rating is yellow.
Ross said Bate has grown “tremendously,” especially considering the shift in school administration last year. He is proud Bate now has veteran leadership in both its principal and vice principal, as well as a strong instructional program through Instructional Coach Jennifer Shearer.
“They’re in a position to really just take off,” he said. “We’re really proud of where Bate is currently and the resilience that they showed last year, to be able to grow.”
Principal Michelle Carver said the school saw improvements in proficiency in reading, math and science.
“We attribute these improvements to the addition of interventionists for Reading and Math and our move to block scheduling for English Language Arts (ELA) and math classes,” she said.
“Doing so has allowed us to create an intentional, data-driven academic Response to Intervention (RTI) program as part of our Multi-Tiered Systems of Support. This system, along with the changes to our master schedule, has also allowed us to create small group, individualized instruction and support for our students with disabilities, which is our focus area for the current school year.”
The accountability data shows that Bate has a Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) federal classification for disability.
Federal classifications are based on the overall school score and performance of subgroups of students. TSI schools are those who have a subgroup performing at or below the bottom 5% of all schools. These identifications on the School Report Card for 2021-2022 are based on one year of data.
Edna L. Toliver Intermediate and Mary G. Hogsett Primary schools also have this classification.
Ross said to address this, the DISD will learn how to improve special education instruction from other districts and also make sure special education teachers are holding students accountable to grade-level-appropriate instruction.
An area of growth is that DHS no longer has the federal classification related to disability like it has in the past, thanks to state support.
Carver said another area of focus going forward is Bate’s concern about a drop in writing scores.
“Our ELA department has created targeted writing goals for our students and systems within the curriculum to support writing instruction,” she said. “Additionally, we have collaborated with the high school English department to establish a secondary level writing team that is building a robust, vertically-aligned writing plan for grades 6-12.”
Toliver and Hogsett both rate orange overall, have a TSI classification related to disability and African-American students, rate red (very low) in the English Learners Progress Indicator Rating, and rate orange in the Quality of School Climate and Safety Indicator. They also both have an orange Reading & Mathematics Indicator Rating and Science, Social Studies & Writing Indicator Rating.
Toliver Principal Robin Kelly said the school has already seen growth this year in workshop groups and have made changes to the way the school is giving assessments, so students can be better prepared to take the test online.
In addressing the needs of English Language Learners, African-American students and students with disabilities, Kelly said, “ELT (English Language Teaching) teachers believe that they have the responsibility to ensure that all students have the opportunity to receive a high-quality education. Toliver is devoted to working with our new School Success and Equity Officer to improve scores of our African-American and special education students, through culturally-responsive instruction. We strive to use our students’ customs, experiences, characteristics and perspectives to enhance the classroom instruction.”
Ross has been intentional over his career in aligning schools around culturally-responsive instructional strategies and has been both a district and state leader, as well as a teacher and administrator, in the area of seeing instructional growth in diverse populations.
“We will be very intentional in preparing our teachers to address and meet the needs of all students,” he said. “We will assure our teachers are equipped with strategies that support the instructional needs of all students.”
One way Ross said staff will aim to reach and engage all students is not only to focus on culturally-responsive teaching but also assign them mentors within the district with whom they connect personally, to help both their social-emotional and academic development. DISD is also working with Central Kentucky Educational Cooperative to help mentor teachers new to the profession.
When it comes to assessment performance, Ross said, “We’re really focusing on a lot of resources around the social-emotional piece for our primary and intermediate schools and just building school readiness for those students, since their foundation has been a little bit in question with COVID over the last two years.”
Hogsett Principal Suzanne Farmer is hopeful going forward, as this is the third year Hogsett has had English Learner cluster classrooms in place.
Hogsett has made several other strides, including beginning to coach special education teachers as they write Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) to make sure the goals are aligned to standards progressions, and incorporating lesson plans that celebrate a variety of cultures.
“Students are coming to us lower than they ever have, based on the kindergarten readiness state assessment given when all students enter kindergarten,” she said. “The good news is that our school data for our students at Hogsett this year shows that what we are doing here is working. Our kids are at higher levels than ever after instruction.”
As for the Quality of School Climate and Safety Indicator Rating piece districtwide, Ross said a couple of things in place to address this are school Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) systems, which vary by school and reward positive behavior. Ross has taken PBIS to a district level, having weekly lunches with students who have exhibited positive behavior. He also rewards staff members weekly.
These examples of recognition are “going to make our district a place where not only our students want to be, but our teachers want to work,” he said.
He also said when it comes to school safety, the district is fortunate to have two School Resource Officers who visit all of the schools. They are very visible in the mornings when students go to school and throughout the day.
“Having those Resource Officers is a huge help, and hopefully we’ll be able to add one more to that in the near future,” he said.