Tuesday morning elementary principals met at the Board of Education’s annex building to discuss the pacing of units in reading, math, science, social studies, and writing. The meeting, called for by Superintendent Jeremy Ledford, was quickly led by the elementary principals providing input and work to make modifications to the district’s plan for instruction.
“We want our best teachers to take a look at the pacing guides we have and revise them for the entire district to follow,” explained Ledford. “No matter what fourth grade classroom you walk into in Knox County, the teacher and students should be on the same unit of study and same lesson give or take only a few days.”
This will be the first time in over a decade that the school district has prioritized vertical alignment across all elementary schools. According to Director of Pupil Personnel Gina Sears, it is highly needed considering the transient population. Sears states that throughout the course of a regular year, students may move from one elementary to another more than once, sometimes several times during the school year.
“If you have a Flat Lick student moving to Lay Elementary, and Flat Lick was studying measurement and data while Lay was on fractions, that student will be left in a gap between the two standards,” explained Ledford.
“Several moves across the district could result in a student being taught the first units of algebraic thinking, the middle of fractions, part of geometry, and based on each school’s pacing guide, maybe no geometry.”
As the principals and teacher leaders work on creating a uniform schedule of standards and timelines for teaching them, district leaders are using Kentucky Summative Assessment (KSA) data to analyze elementary learning. KSA is the statewide assessment, previously called the Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP).
Spring 2021 testing, with many challenges including disruptions, lower rates of participation by students, a shorter test, cannot be used to make direct comparisons of assessment data from prior years. The spring test was the first based on all new standards aligned to the Kentucky Academic Standards. The data does help Knox County leaders identify areas for growth and gaps between grade levels.
State data compared to Knox County data showed that grade 4 reading had 45% of students proficient or distinguished compared to a statewide 43%. Grade 4 math in Knox County was slightly above the state average, Knox County at 33.5% proficient or distinguished and 33.3% at the state. In fifth grade, Knox County was above the state average in math, with Knox 31.1% proficient or distinguished and the state average 30.9%.
The school district acknowledges what Commissioner of Education Glass has said repeatedly during the past months. “Despite extremely challenging circumstances, assessment results show that at every grade level, many participating students still performed at a proficient/distinguished level in most subjects.”
Knox County will be utilizing the individual student data in all grade levels to determine student growth or needed interventions. When looking at individual data, it can be used with MAP test scores from the fall to identify the needs of each student.
Meanwhile, the work on the elementary curriculum will continue in Knox. The expected date for pacing guides to be revised and posted online is the week of October 18. Once posted online, student families will be able to look at the guide and know exactly what their child is learning in each class. The question of “what did you learn today at school?” can become, “I see you are studying place value in math, can you show me…?”
Complete academic performance data for all Knox County schools is available in the Kentucky School Report Card. It can be accessed online at www.kyschoolreportcard.com