New accountability system brings changes in scores, changes in reporting

Knox County Board of Education

This year’s release of school accountability results brings with it changes in school scores and changes in the way the state is reporting them.

From using stars to performance indicators ranging from very low to very high, the new system comes nearly four years after the federal Every Student Succeeds Act and many public forums around the Commonwealth.

“The scores represent a snapshot in time of what is happening in the Knox County Public Schools,” explained Superintendent Kelly Sprinkles.  “It is one set of data among many that we will use to continue to grow as a school district.”

Knox County found itself among the top and the middle of the statewide averages.  The highlight, G.R. Hampton Elementary School, receiving five stars with an overall score of 88.5.  Only 37 elementary schools in the state received the five star rating.  Hampton also made another state list, one of the top 20 schools for growth.  Commissioner Wayne Lewis is recognizing the schools for extraordinary growth and academic progress on a first Commissioner’s List. Lewis will be presenting the principal of each school with a certificate for its growth progress in the coming weeks.

Four Knox County Schools were in the four star spotlight, finding themselves among 233 schools statewide.  Central Elementary, Dewitt, Jesse D. Lay, and Knox County Middle school each received this designation.

“We are pleased with the gains our schools are seeing this year,” said Sprinkles.  “However we must keep those labels in perspective, understanding how they are calculated, and seeing them as just one more piece that we can use to ensure all students are succeeding.”

Under the new accountability system, a five or four star school’s rating can be lowered by one star if it has one or more achievement gaps between the performances of groups of students. A total of 81 state schools’ overall ratings were impacted by their achievement gaps – 16 otherwise five star schools were lowered to four stars, and 65 otherwise four star schools were lowered to three stars.

The remaining Knox County schools found themselves among the state’s nearly 900 schools receiving three and two stars.  Flat Lick Elementary, Girdler Elementary, Knox Central High, and Lynn Camp Schools overall received three stars.

With the lowering of ratings due to gaps, and the star system itself being used, leaders at the Kentucky Department of Education are reminding families of how the new accountability reporting is designed.  “The rating also is not meant to necessarily be a judgment or negative mark, state officials caution. Rather, it is meant to start conversations about how to support student success, ” the Department stated in their news release.

Overall scores for Knox County’s schools are shown below.

School Name Overall Score Number of Stars
Central Elementary School 71.7 4
Dewitt Elementary School 77.8 4
Flat Lick Elementary School 64.1 3
G R Hampton Elementary School 88.5 5
Girdler Elementary School 70.7 3
Jesse D Lay Elementary School 72.2 4
Knox Central High School 62.6 3
Knox County Middle School 73.6 4
Lynn Camp Elementary 67.5 3
Lynn Camp Middle 60.7 3
Lynn Camp High 58.1 2

Information released by the Department reflecting the 2018-2019 school year can be viewed in the form of an online dashboard on the Kentucky School Report Card website, recently launched at, where reports for each school and the district will show graphics displaying the overall identification of one to five stars, federal classifications, the performance on indicators (from very low to very high), and any statistically significant achievement gaps.

As for the conversations the data is meant to spark, those are already occurring in Knox County.  “Since receiving the data in September we are already taking action at the school and district level to ensure that each student is receiving the instruction needed to grow,” said Sprinkles.  “School scores are important as a measuring tool, but our schools are using i-Ready, MAP, ACT, and other assessments to measure the progress of each student.”

“We launched this school year with the vision of a growth mindset for students and staff, the accountability data allows us to see those opportunities for growth and be flexible and receptive to changes in the way we teach,” added Sprinkles.

Sprinkles noted that teachers throughout the district are growing professionally in the use of high yield instructional strategies to engage and challenge students but to also meet the diverse learning styles of students.  “The standards for each content area must be taught with intention and meaning for students, making real-world connections, and allowing students to connect new knowledge and skills with prior learning.”  Last year the district focused on identifying critical standards in its curriculum that students must master at each grade level.  The use of teacher work days this year is allowing the district to continue to improve its instructional units and assessments to ensure those standards are being mastered.

“Growth data and the combination of data that shows us achievement gaps among students is used to make the changes needed in curriculum and instruction to reach not most of the class, but rather each student.”  Like schools across Kentucky, Knox County is working to reduce those achievement gaps between ethnicities, economic status, and disability.  “The focus is on the whole child, not the whole class.  We must address barriers to their learning and remove them.”

Ultimately the goal is for each Knox County student to graduate being prepared for the future ahead.  The district’s high schools are among the state average rating of medium when analyzing transition and graduation indicators of the accountability report.

School Name Transition Readiness Indicator Transition Readiness Indicator Rating Graduation Indicator 4 Yr Cohort Graduation Rate
Knox Central High School 77.2 Medium 93.5 93.9
Lynn Camp Schools 70.2 Medium 92.6 93.4

The indicators include earning a high school diploma and meeting expectations for either academic or career readiness by meeting the benchmark scores on a college admissions exam or a college placement exam; earning a grade of C or higher on 6 hours of KDE-approved dual credit classes; scoring 3+ on two Advanced Placement classes.  To achieve career readiness, students must receive an industry certification or score at or above the benchmark on the career and technical education end-of-program assessments.  The readiness data also includes students demonstrating exceptional work experience.  Knox County’s two high schools are among 71 in the medium rating, ranking higher than 92 of the state’s 228 high schools.

The conversations that are occurring with the release accountability data will be used to revise school and district comprehensive improvement plans.  This fall stakeholders representing students, families, business, and post-secondary institutions will come together to review all of the district’s data and identify needed revisions to the school and district plans.

“Our improvement plans are intentionally designed to focus not only on standards, instruction, and assessment but also the support and learning environment within each school,” said Sprinkles.  “The plans include strategies and supporting actions the district must take in order for us to achieve what our portrait of a graduate represents, beginning with preschool and kindergarten.”

Knox County families will have the opportunity to review their child’s K-PREP test results and the results of i-Ready and MAP testing during fall open houses.  Families may also contact their child’s school directly to receive the information.

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Visit the Kentucky School Report Card website at for school, district, and statewide data.