SALYERSVILLE – While the state released the 2017-2018 school test results last week, there was some confusion as to what the numbers meant for Magoffin County Schools.
While the Lexington Herald-Leader rushed to publish the results, along with the rankings, Magoffin County High School looked like it was one of the worst high schools in the state, though, after looking at the numbers it appears the high school, as well as the rest of the schools in the district, actually performed well above the state’s requirements.
Since the 2017-2018 school year was yet another transitionary year for the Kentucky Department of Education’s assessment strategy, the state did not actually give schools or districts overall scores, instead scoring each school on three criteria. For middle schools and elementary schools, that meant proficiency indicators (reading and math), separate academic indicator (science, social studies and writing), and growth indicator (tracking individual students’ progress). On the high school level, the testing results included proficiency (factoring in only high school juniors’ ACT score in reading and math); transition readiness indicator and the graduation rate.
The state then categorized three different ways: comprehensive support and improvement (CSI), targeted support and improvement (TSI) and “other.”
As it may sound, CSI is the worst classification and includes the bottom 5 percent of schools or schools with less than an 80 percent graduation rate for high schools. Statewide, 51 schools landed in this category, none of which are in the Magoffin County School District.
TSI-classified schools must have one or more student groups performing as poorly as all students in any of the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools based on school performance. While 418 Kentucky schools fell in this group, no Magoffin County schools were targeted.
Leaving all five of the local schools to be classified as “other,” which by all accounts seems to be a good thing. Of the state’s 1,272 schools, 63 percent were identified as “other.”
Magoffin County Schools Superintendent Scott Helton said, “The elementary schools did pretty good in comparison to the state. The growth was good and the middle school did well, too. One elementary school had some room to grow, but the biggest thing is this was a one-year test and it’s changing, again. We were told today (on Tuesday) the ACT will be a part of the test and we’re just working on doing a better job finding the individual needs of students and where they need to be.”
The schools have purchased iReady, a program for the elementary schools and the middle school to target individual needs, and they’re also looking at purchase a similar program, taking into account the ACT, for the high school.
“I’m disappointed in the way the Lexington Herald-Leader portrayed us, but overall the district is doing okay,” Helton said. “We’re still progressing and moving forward.”
School officials told the Independent that at the district level and at all schools, staff is currently analyzing the data, looking for areas which need improvement and celebrating areas where students scored well.
Magoffin County High School
The school rankings that were released last week by the Lexington Herald-Leader only factored in proficiency, meaning the high school’s credibility was pinned solely on last year’s juniors’ math and reading ACT scores from a single day, which for most was the first time they had taken the test. The Herald-Leader ranked Magoffin County High School in the bottom 20 high schools in the state, despite the fact 118 Kentucky high schools were categorized as either CSI or TSI.
“In a sense, we were misrepresented by the article because they were only using one-third of the data,” Magoffin County High School Principal Chris Meadows said. “Obviously, when you look at data you can always find places you can improve. You can see from the proficiency indicator the juniors did not perform as well as past years, but that’s only one indicator for the whole school and there are many other indicators that come into play.”
Meadows said he’s been talking with teachers and they are going to start mock testing more frequently and they are looking into testing programs that will track the individual needs of students.
In a breakdown of the scores released, the Magoffin County High School scored 41.6 in proficiency (the state had set a cut score requiring at least a 40), 44.4 in transition readiness (cut score set at 41), and 95.1 in graduation rate (cut score set at 85).
Herald Whitaker Middle School
Statewide, 128 middle schools were classified as TSI and 12 were considered CSI, with the other 55 percent, including HWMS, labeled “other.” HWMS scored 66.6 in proficiency (cut score set at 62), 59 in separate academic indicator (cut score at 55), and 13 in growth (cut score at 9.5).
North Magoffin Elementary
If you crunch the numbers, 211 out of 722 Kentucky elementary schools were considered TSI or CSI, though all three of Magoffin’s grade schools performed above, and in many cases well above, the state-mandated cut scores.
NME scored 80 in proficiency (cut scores set at 60.5), 74.7 in separate academic indicator (cut score of 52.6), and 18.4 in growth (cut score of 15.8).
Salyersville Grade School
SGS also breezed past the state’s cut scores, with 82 in proficiency (cut score at 60.5), 63 in separate academic indicator (cut score 52.6), and 19.1 in growth (cut score 15.8).
Salyersville Grade School Principal Gary Helton released the following statement about the scores: “After reviewing our test data, we feel that our students show the most strength in Math and Reading. The main area for concern is a weakness in writing. Understanding that writing is a weakness for our students, SGS staff has created a new writing policy, which encompasses all subject areas. We have also made a few staff changes that we hope will better suit the needs of our students. Staff is also receiving various types of professional development to ensure that our students will be better writers in the future. This will be our main focus. We would hope that our parents and community would realize that although Salyersville Grade School is above all three indicators in regards to the state cut scores, we still have room for improvement and plan to work diligently to improve the education of all of our students for a better Salyersville Grade School and a better Magoffin County in general.
South Magoffin Elementary
Even with the smaller student body at SME, the school still performed well compared to the state’s requirements, receiving a 64.9 in proficiency (cut score 60.5), 57.8 in separate academic indicator (cut score 52.6) and 18.8 in growth (cut score 15.8).