The Times Journal & Russell County News
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School test scores tops in region
In Sept. 30 Issue
By Derek Aaron
Times Journal Editor

Russell County Schools Superintendent Kenny Pickett said he is well pleased with this year's No Child Left Behind assessment results that were released late last week by the Kentucky Department of Education and shows Russell County schools as tops in the Lake Cumberland area.

"I am very excited and proud of the teachers, staff and most importantly, the students of Russell County," Pickett said. "It just shows that all children can learn and at high levels no matter the state of the economy."

Russell County's six public schools performed well in trying to achieve these high federal academic standards, Pickett said.

He said the school district can boast about a 92 percent overall index of achievement with the state goal of 100 percent by 2014.

"We are only eight points away and far above many other districts in the state," he said. "I am very fortunate and grateful to be part of the Russell County community and the Russell County School System."

Every school except for Russell County Middle School made NCLB adequate yearly progress, he said.

Pickett said he was extremely happy with the scores from Russell County High School where students made a significant math improvement of nearly 4.5 percent from a year ago. The high school's reading scores fell from 71.94 percent to 63.73 percent but even with the drop in reading, Russell County High School remained well above the national NCLB requirements in that subject.

"Russell County High School ranks in the top 20 in the state in student proficiency," he said. "It is impressive for a small school district to compare to high schools such as Louisville Male and DuPont Manual."

Pickett added that Russell County students should be able to compete anywhere in the state for jobs after graduating from RCHS performing at such high levels of achievement.

RCHS Principal Darren Gossage said that based on performance levels of proficient and distinguished, Russell County High School ranked 20th out of more than 220 high schools in the state.  

"These results are evidence of the combined efforts and work of students, parents, teachers, staff and the community," Gossage said.

Gossage also pointed out that The Kentucky Association of School Councils also put out their own rankings which it calls a transition index and gives you a raw score for your school.  RCHS is tied for the 30th highest ranking high school in the state using those figures.

At the middle school, students made two percent improvements in both reading and math  to raiser their overall transition index to 87 but did not meet adequate yearly progress, according to the results. Students there scored 68.83 percent in reading and 63 percent in math.

Combined, Russell County's four elementary schools far exceeded the national requirements with nearly a two percentage point improvement in reading at 84.56 percent while dipping just slightly in math from 80.94 percent to 80.19 percent for a total index of 104.

"Russell County elementary schools are tied for 8th place in the state ranking with six other school districts," Pickett said. "What an impressive accomplishment for our four elementary schools."

Individually, Jamestown led the way for elementary schools with a 91.87 percent score in math and an 86.59 percent score in math. Next was Union Chapel with a 90.59 percent reading score and a 78.82 percent math score. Salem scored 87.63 percent in reading and 84.95 percent in math while Russell Springs scored 72.84 percent in math and 70.63 percent in math, according to the assessment results.

Nationally, the district-wide average for reading is 68.69 percent while the math average is 59.79 percent. To compare, Russell County's school district scored 78.1 percent in reading and 70.82 percent in math.

"This is an amazing accomplishment for the students in our school district," Pickett said.

The test results are from statewide assessments that Kentucky students took at the end of the 2009-10 school year. They provide a lot of useful data to the department of education, including results for No Child Left Behind and scores from the state Core Content Test and reports on the college readiness of Kentucky students.

In Kentucky, 55.6 percent of schools met federal goals, down almost five percentage points from last year.

Federal law says that schools and districts be held accountable for the progress and participation of student subgroups in reading and math testing in third through eighth grades and at least once in each subject in 10th, 11th and 12th grades.

Schools are required to have specific percentages of students reaching proficiency or above in reading and mathematics each year and to meet other criteria in order to make AYP. If schools don't make those goals, schools enter into different levels of consequences, or tiers.

Russell County remains in Tier III for adequate yearly progress for the second straight year.

"I want to thank the entire community of parents, grandparents, businesses, churches, teachers, staff and administrators for their support of our children and school system," Pickett said. "It takes everyone to help nurture our children to be successful in education and in life."

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The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
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