KCPS earns the grade, district achieves “distinguished” status

There will be lots of celebrations occurring today in the Knox County Public Schools.  The school district has earned its highest rating ever, “distinguished”, in the latest results from Kentucky’s Unbridled Learning school accountability system.

“This year is a milestone for Knox County and it proves that our schools are focused on student achievement,” Superintendent Kelly Sprinkles shared following the data release.

Knox County seen growth from a 65.6 overall score and “needs improvement” rating one year ago to a score of 72.4 and a “distinguished” rating for the past school year.  For the past three years Knox County has experienced growth, outpacing the overall average continuous growth of many school districts.  The two year growth for Knox is 15.5, having added 6 points in 2014-15 and 9.5 in 2013-14.  In the area of growth, Knox County ranks in the top five districts in the state for highest continuous growth over that time span.

Growth was the trend seen in Knox County data released by the Kentucky Department of Education on Thursday.  The data included progress made on the K-PREP, college and career readiness assessments, and reductions in the number of low performing students. Gains at the district level were the result of significant improvements seen at elementary, middle, and high schools across the county.


G.R. and Knox Middle named “Schools of Distinction”

Among the celebrations on Thursday will be the district’s two new shining stars, G.R. Hampton Elementary and Knox County Middle schools.  Both schools have earned Kentucky’s highest rating, “school of distinction”.

G.R. Hampton made the jump from “proficiency” just one year ago with a score of 68, to being the district’s top performer with a score of 81.4 for 2015-16.  Elementary schools must score above a 76 to earn the “school of distinction” classification.  The classification of “high progress school” is also given to G.R. Hampton as the school has seen an increase of 13.9 since 2013.

Across town at Knox County Middle, students will be celebrating an overall score of 78.4 during the past year that has earned them the “school of distinction” classification.   The middle school’s overall score of 78.4 for the past year is a 14.2 increase from one year ago and a 16.2 increase from two years ago, thus also earning them the “high progress school” distinction. Middle schools must score 72.5 or better to earn the classification of distinction.

“A year ago Knox Middle was seen as progressing and G.R. was proficient, today they have set the bar high for the other schools in the district and the state,” said Sprinkles.

“During last year’s Unbridled Learning recognition, Mr. Frederick (principal at G.R. Hampton) shared with the district leadership team that they were going to be distinguished this year and they showed us a bulletin board that they were putting up in the hallway to communicate that message.  I’m happy that the message that I get to share with them today is that they exceeded their own goal and expectations for the year.”

“Knox Middle shares a success story that you would typically only hear at the Derby,” said Sprinkles. “In one year they went from being in the mix as a school that was progressing to earning the highest title.”

Sprinkles contributes both schools successes to a laser like focus on individual student performance.

“Both G.R. and Knox Middle know their students well and that is what it takes; they are providing interventions, enrichment, whatever it takes to ensure that the students experience continuous growth throughout the school year.”

Dewitt and Knox Central are the district’s newest “Distinguished” schools

One year after having named the district’s first “distinguished” school, Knox County is adding two new names to the list.

Dewitt Elementary experienced significant gains in the past year, moving from a score of 65.9 in 2014-15 to 73.2 in 2015-16, earning them “distinguished” ratings.  Like G.R. and Knox Middle, Dewitt also shares the title of “high performing school” having seen a 7.3 increase in the past year.

Knox County’s first distinguished high school title goes to Knox Central.

“Last year Knox Central made the score to exit priority status and was seen as a school beginning to experience continuous improvement.

“This year, with even more celebration than last year, the students and staff at Knox Central have achieved a new benchmark – that of a distinguished school,” said Sprinkles.

Knox Central can be referred to as a textbook definition of growth.  During the 2013-14 school year, while under state assistance, the school scored 59.5 overall. Last year, they leaped 10.5 points to a 70.0 overall score, jumping 51 percentile groups, and meeting the criteria to exit priority school status.   During the 2015-16 school year, the school achieved “distinguished” ratings with an overall score of 77.6.

“The culture of Knox Central has become all students college or career ready, the staff believes that, instruction has changed as a result, and the students are achieving at higher levels than ever before,” said Sprinkles.

Continuous improvement results in more Proficient schools

The list of proficient schools also continues to grow in Knox County.

Central Elementary, Flat Lick, Jesse D. Lay, Lynn Camp Elementary, and Lynn Camp High all met the scores to earn a “proficient” rating according to the Unbridled Learning accountability system.

“Five proficient schools shows that Knox County is experiencing continuous improvement throughout the school system,” said Sprinkles.

Overall accountability scores for the five schools were Lynn Camp High scoring a 70.2, Central Elementary 71.0, Flat Lick 70.1, Lynn Camp Elementary 69.5, and Jesse D. Lay rounding out the proficient schools with a 67.4.

“These scores, and all scores across the district, are worthy of applause and celebration as they reflect the dedication of our teaching staff and the commitment of our students to learn and grow,” said Sprinkles.

Proficient cut scores are 67.2 for elementary, 65.8 for middle, 70.2 for high.

Next steps to continuous improvement

Designation as a “distinguished” school district represents what is still yet to come according to Superintendent Sprinkles.

During Tuesday’s Chamber of Commerce meeting in Barbourville, Sprinkles laid out the plan for the system to become one of excellence within the next four years.

“Curriculum, instruction, and assessment, which are at the core of the educational system, are our priorities this year and for the next four years,” said Sprinkles.

Work is already underway on each of the areas.  Work groups were established this summer that have developed tentative plans on making the refinements needed to the district’s curriculum, instruction, and assessment.  Prior to the start of the school year teachers worked on developing instructional units and lesson plans based on the district’s essential components.

“An aligned curriculum, instruction based on standards and best practices, assessments that measure each student’s individual growth, and interventions that take the numbers from a test and turn them into a learning plan for the student is our vision for Knox County Public Schools.

“Reducing the number of novice, the lower performing students, by knowing where they are performing at and providing them with the instruction and resources to learn and grow is the key to each child succeeding and us being a successful school system,” said Sprinkles.

Sprinkles will be sharing the Unbridled Learning test results and the district’s strategic plan for the next four years during Thursday’s special called Board of Education meeting.  The meeting will take place at Knox Central High School beginning at 6:30 p.m.  The public is invited to attend.

“A system of excellence is within reach; we experienced new milestones this year, and our goal is to continue celebrating gains and reaching new achievements in the years to come,” said Sprinkles.

Unbridled Learning accountability results for all Kentucky schools is available on the Kentucky Department of Education’s website at http://applications.education.ky.gov/SRC/Default.aspx.  The online school report card application allows you to view state-wide, district level, and school level data.