“I'm happy that we made a gain,” Superintendent Roger Cook said, “but we are still below the state average and need to improve.”
The CATS- or Commonwealth Accountability Testing System- scores are used by the state to hold schools accountable for student progress. CATS has three parts: the Kentucky Core Content Tests (KCCT), the national Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS), and other measures of the school's performance such as attendance, retention and dropout rates. Together these three elements make up a school's CATS Performance Score for every two-year period.
The district score for the 2005-2006 school year for Russellville is 73.1, compared to 66.6 for the previous year, an increase of 6.5.
“Russellville independent was the eighth most improved school district in the state,” Cook said, pointing out that when it comes to improving the scores from one year to the next, Russellville ranked eighth in the state.
The overall goal for all schools in Kentucky is to reach 100, or a score of proficient, by the year 2014. In order to keep schools on track for that goal, the Kentucky Department of Education creates a biyearly improvement goal for each district.
Russellville's improvement goal for 2004-2006 was 80.4. The combined index score for the district for the two years was 69.9.
“We're moving up and we continue to improve,” said Amanda Hollingsworth, director of curriculum and assessment for Russellville Schools.
The score for last year for Stevenson Elementary and Russellville Middle School, which are combined since the middle school had fifth grade, was 72.0, up from 65.6, creating a two-year score of 68.8. With an improvement goal of 80.0, this put the elementary and middle school in the assistance level two status.
Hollingsworth explained that this means those schools will receive some assistance from the state. A scholastic review will be conducted and the schools' comprehensive school improvement plans will be updated. The schools may also receive additional funding.
The score for Russellville High School for last year was 75.5, up from 68.6, creating a two-year score of 72.1. With an improvement goal of 80.6, this put the high school in the progressing, novice reduction category.
According to Hollingsworth, this means that although the school did not meet its goal, they made enough progress to not receive state assistance. The “novice reduction” means that the school needs to lessen the number of students scoring in the “novice” category, the lowest scoring category in the KCCT.
“I'm very happy that the scores are improving,” Hollingsworth said. She pointed out that some aspects of the CATS will be changing, including the dropping of the CTBS test. This national norm referenced test measures reading, language and math skills of students in third, sixth and ninth grades. The scores are reported in percentiles. For example, a percentile of 60 would show that the average student in a school scored equal to or better than 60 percent of all students who took the test.
The CTBS scores at all three Russellville schools dropped from 2005 to 2006. The total scores for the schools were: Stevenson, 47, down from 55 the previous year; RMS, 44, down from 48; and RHS, 48, down from 53.
Hollingsworth explained that the CTBS only accounts for 5 percent of whole accountability and it only tests a few grades on limited subjects.
The KCCT, on the other hand, tests students in all grades from fourth through twelfth and includes reading, math, science, social studies, writing, arts and humanities, and practical living/vocational studies.
When looking at these scores, Russellville schools went up in all categories at all levels except one, middle school mathematics.
“The scores mean we've got a lot of hard work left to do, but we have improved a lot,” Cook said.
Cook added that he wants to give the students and teachers credit for all the hard work they've done in making the improvements they have.
“We're only getting started,” Cook said. “I think the students' attitudes are much better and they are out to prove they can do better.”
For more information on the Russellville scores and the scores of other districts go to www.education.ky.gov.