2017-10-04 / Front Page

Whitesburg Middle, Jenkins Elementary lead county schools on statewide exam


Letcher County Schools surpassed the state in most subjects at every grade level in the percentage of proficient and distinguished students, according to test scores released last week.

However the district and some schools still lag far behind, particularly in math and in reading at some grade levels.

Percentages for the Jenkins district, which includes only one school at each grade level, were lower than the state percentages in all subjects in middle and high school, but surpassed the state in all subjects at the elementary school level.

Changes in the way the state issues scores changed this year, making it difficult to compare the scores to last year, or to other dis tricts. Districts are no longer labeled with a single score. Students are still listed as novice, apprentice, proficient or distinguished.

However, officials with the Letcher County district said the gains were enough to push it into the distinguished category, if it still existed.

Over the four-year period beginning in 2014, the percentage of student scoring proficient or distinguished increased in nearly every category of testing, with elementary writing increasing by 15 percentage points, to 52 percent from 37 percent. The highest percentage of proficient and distinguished scores in the county district was in middle school social studies, with an increase to 67 percent from 61.

The best performance in the Jenkins Independent District was in elementary school reading, where 64.8 percent of students scored proficient or distinguished, more than 10 points more than the state as a whole, which had a proficient and distinguished percentage of 54.3.

In the Jenkins Independent School District, the percentages of proficient and distinguished were as follows (state percentage in parenthesis):

High school — 48.8 in reading (55.8), 23.5 in social studies (58.5), 37.5 in math (38.1)

Middle school — 50 in reading (56.9), 53.6 in social studies (60.5), 39.6 in math (47.0)

Elementary school — 64.8 in reading (54.3), 65.7 in social studies (60.0), 56.8 in math (49.1)

In the Letcher County School District, the percentages of proficient and distinguished were as follows (state percentages in parenthesis):

High school — 59.2 in reading (55.8), 56.0 in social studies (58.5), 37.4 in math (38.1)

Middle school — 65.6 in reading (56.9), 67.9 in social studies (60.5), 47.9 in math (47.0)

Elementary school — 53.6 in reading (54.3), 66.7 in social studies (60.0), 42.4 in math (49.1)

Schools also tested in writing in a separate assessment. Letcher County Schools exceeded state percentages in elementary and middle school writing, and fell below in high school writing. The district was also below the state percentage of students scoring proficient or distinguished in language mechanics for elementary and middle school. At Letcher County Central High, 59.6 percent of students scored proficient or distinguished in science, above the state average of 41.2. Middle and elementary schools were not scored in the same way in science.

Still, some schools’ raw scores were far below those of others. According to rankings done by The Courier-Journal, Letcher Elementary and Cowan Elementary ranked 1,010 and 1,026 respectively out of 1,262 schools in the state, and 13th and 14th of the 14 schools in the county and independent districts. The same ranking places Whitesburg Middle School as the top school in the county and at 244th in the state. Jenkins Elementary was second in the county and 275th in the state, according to The Courier-Journal’s ranking.

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