Whitesburg KY

Poor test scores discussed at Jenkins

The Jenkins Independent Schools Board of Education received last year’s test results at its November meeting. Jenkins Elementary Schools Principal Stacy Collier told the board she was proud of rankings of JES within Letcher County, where she said Jenkins did relatively well when compared against schools in the Letcher County System.

Collier said that according to her calculations, Jenkins Elementary had the top scores in reading, writing, and math when compared to other schools in Letcher County, but did poorly in science, finishing next to last to Beckham Bates, which is no longer open. The elementary schools had the fourth-highest overall scores in the county in social studies.

Jenkins Middle High School Principal David Lee said the middle high school has made gradual improvements overall and had gotten closer to national norms in several subjects on the American College Test. Jenkins Plan (pre-ACT) scores for the 2012-2013 test in math stood at 15.5 against a national norm of 17.6. The benchmark is 19 for math. In English, Jenkins students scored 15.8 against the national norm of 16.2, and benchmark of 15. The science score was 16.9 against the national norm of 17.8 and benchmark of 21. Reading scores stood at 15.0 against the national norm of 16.7 and benchmark of 17.

The composite ACT score for Jenkins students who took the test last year was 17.9, for a gain of 1.5, against a statewide average of 19.5. Lee said he was less interested in comparing scores with other schools because his goal was to be the best. He said teachers at JMHS have already targeted the basic math skills of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division as the areas that need improvement and are conducting a “math blitz” to work on the basics, without which advanced math classes will not be successful.

Middle School Principal Bill Castle told the board that he had noticed a number of students still counting on their fingers when doing basic math problems and said that would not work in higher math. Castle said that by targeting the basics, it would not only increase math scores, but would help students be successful when they move into algebra I in high school. Principal Lee added that the culture and attitude need to be changed from what many students think school is about, by letting them know that there are many people in the school system who are willing and anxious to help them do better. He stressed attention to detail and said little things are important.

According to test results released on November 2, Jenkins Elementary Schools had an overall score of 54.8 and stood at 451 out of 733 elementary schools in Kentucky and fell into the “Needs Improvement” classification. Jenkins Middle School, which is housed with the high school in the Jenkins Middle School building, had an overall score of 47.7 and ranked 256 out of 333 middle schools in the state. The high school had an overall score of 45.5 and ranked 204 out of 230 high schools. The middle school and high school both fall into the “Needs Improvement” classification, as does the entire district with an overall score of 49.2, that places it at 146 out of 174 districts in the state.

Letcher County Public Schools had an overall score of 48.5 that placed them at 152 out of 174. Letcher County Elementary Schools’ scores varied from an overall high for Martha Jane Potter of 57.7 to a low of 36.7 for the now closed Beckham Bates Elementary. MJP placed 368 out of 733 elementary schools. All LCPS elementary schools fell into the “Needs Improvement” range. Letcher County middle schools also covered a wide range of scores. Fleming-Neon Middle School had the highest ranking with a score of 59.5 and Beckham Bates was at the bottom with a score of 40.5. Several of the county middle schools scored over 55 points, with Cowan Middle School at 57.8 and Whitesburg Middle School at 57.0. FNMS was at 92 out of 333 middle schools in Kentucky. All county middle schools fell into the “Needs Improvement “ class as well. Letcher County Central High School scored 46.7 to place it at 196 out of 230 high schools and in the “Needs Improvement” category as well.

In other business, Superintendent Deborah Watts told the board she participated last week in a web conference with the Kentucky Department of Education regarding the development of the Comprehensive Plan and said during the conference participants mapped out goals and a clear direction for the state. Jenkins Independent Schools will hold a comprehensive planning session on December 6 at 4 p.m.

Watts was enthusiastic about the participation of Mountain Comprehensive Health Care in providing medical services for Jenkins students. She said MCHC will send nurse practitioners and doctors to supplement the school nurses and will treat students on-site. Open houses will be held at each campus to provide information and allow parents to sign up to allow their children to receive services, Dates are: middlehigh school, November 27; McRoberts Elementary, November 28; and Burdine Elementary, November 29, 12:30-3 p.m.

District Financial Officer Candala Gibson told the board the general fund balance stands at $191,092.21, which she described as low. However, Gibson said tax revenues will start coming in soon and she expects the balance to rise. Superintendent Watts also mentioned problems with the JMHS heating system, which she said are generally expensive to repair. Watts said classrooms are heated so classes can continue.

Watts told the board that Director of Pupil Personnel Harvey Tackett had resigned to accept the position as superintendent of Bath County Schools. Watts said she appreciates Tackett’s dedication and service to the system and will certainly miss him. Tackett also served as Safe Schools director. Watts announced that John Handshoe has been hired as an upper division science teacher for the high school.

In other board business:

• Student Technology Leadership Teams from the elementary, middle and high schools will travel to Pikeville this week to compete in the STLP Fall Showcase at the Eastern Kentucky Exposition Center.

• The board voted unanimously to accept the Kentucky Educational Technology System’s (KETS) initial offer of assistance of $5,278. The offer will be matched by the school system. Technology Director Damian Johnson said the second offer will come in the second semester and will be smaller. The combined offers and matches will make up the entire technology budget for the school year.

• The board voted unanimously to reschedule the December meeting for December 20 at 6 p.m. in the JMHS library.

• The board voted unanimously to pay extracurricular coaches and advisors half their salary in the middle of their respective season and the remainder at the end of the season. It will address the issue of changing its certification policy for coaches to match that of the Kentucky High School Athletics Association at a special meeting in December.

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