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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Fort Thomas Independent Schools Receive High Marks from Kentucky Department of Education

Kentucky will shift to a new accountability system for next school year

By Mark Collier


The Kentucky Department of Education has released the results for the 2017 Assessment and Accountability and Fort Thomas Independent Schools, once again, have a reason to celebrate.

A shift in how school districts will be measured academically in the next school year has eliminated measures that are typically used to rank schools by overall scores or classifications.

Senate Bill 1, which passed in this year’s legislative General Assembly, allowed for a reprieve of accountability measures this year in preparation for a statewide shift to a new accountability system for the 2018-2019 year.

So while district stakeholders are accustomed to a high ranking against other districts, Fort Thomas educators are extolling their accomplishments from last year as they pore over scores. Last year the district was the top performing school in northern Kentucky and ranked number 3 overall.

“Fort Thomas Independent Schools uses a variety of measures to determine the progress and achievement of students. Along with the state accountability, we use international and national assessments that demonstrate that our students continue to perform at a high level,” said Dr. Karen Cheser, Superintendent of Fort Thomas Independent Schools.

“This year's state assessment does not include rankings and levels that we usually receive, but we can still use the data to make any needed changes. Next year's assessment system will be different, measuring items like transition readiness that we have not traditionally addressed. As usual, we will be proactive in ensuring our students do well, no matter the accountability system.”


A few highlights from across the district:

• 87.9% of all high school students in the 11th grade performed at the Proficient/Distinguished level in writing.

• 77.9% of all middle school students in the 6th grade performed at the Proficient/Distinguished level in language mechanics, which is an increase from 67.3% Proficient/Distinguished in 2016.

• 81.3% of all elementary students performed at the Proficient/Distinguished level in social studies.

• The average ACT scores for each of the subject areas are as follows: English, 24.5; Mathematics, 23.3; Reading, 24.7; and Science, 24.2.

• The percent of students meeting the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education’s (CPE’s) College Readiness Benchmarks on the ACT were as follows: English, 86.6%; Mathematics, 73.3%; and Reading, 77.6%.

• Students at the high school level increased their percentage of meeting the benchmark standard on the ACT in English (86% to 87%), Reading (69% to 70%), and Science (61% to 63%) from 2016 to 2017.

Highlands Middle School, in particular, made large strides in their academic performance and Novice reduction, which demonstrates an effort to target academic achievement gaps and support students in moving towards proficiency.

A highlight at the middle school level included a reduction in the percentage of students who performed at the Novice level in writing, lowering from 7.6% in 2016 to 4.8% in 2017.

“Any success and improvement is attributed to having an amazing staff that give tirelessly to help every student succeed as a student and a person at HMS,” said Highlands Middle School Principal, Michael Howton. “We have increased our focus on students needs by providing multiple levels of academic supports, improving our culture and closely monitoring the growth and development of every student.”

New Assistant Superintendent For Teaching and Learning, Bill Bradford, knows the standing of Fort Thomas Schools throughout the state and can now attest to the culture personally.

He said he’s excited about the implementation of personalized learning efforts that will target students who have been unable to master grade level standards and to enhance programming as it relates to transition readiness.

“As an educator from another school district, the reputation of the Fort Thomas Independent Schools is perfectly aligned to the performance that I see from students, support staff, teachers, and administrators on a daily basis,” said Bradford. “There is an excellence here that is truly unmatched.  While high levels of student achievement remain the expectation of all stakeholders, our educators are focused on continuous improvement efforts that will further promote the most rigorous and relevant learning experience for all students.”

Although not accountable for the 2017-reporting year due to Senate Bill 1, data has been provided to schools and districts for how students performed in achievement, gap, growth, college and career readiness, and graduation rate.

Individual school performance results for achievement are listed below on a scale to 100:

• Highlands High School earned 96.3 points for achievement.
• Highlands Middle School earned 95.6 points for achievement.
• Johnson Elementary School earned 97.9 points for achievement.
• Moyer Elementary School earned 91.9 points for achievement.
• Woodfill Elementary School earned 92 points for achievement.

Fort Thomas Independent Schools found themselves in the top ten of many categories for academic proficiencies.

Highlands Middle School ranked #10 in Reading
Highlands Middle School ranked #8 in Math
Johnson Elementary School ranked #6 in Reading
Highlands High School ranked #6 in Reading
Highlands High School ranked #7 in Social Studies

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