Local school systems get their test results

August 14, 2003|HERB BROCK

Burgin may be the smallest school district in the area but it looms large when it comes to testing in basic skills.

The state Department of Education released results Wednesday of the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills in reading, language and math, administered to third-, sixth- and ninth-graders in April, and they show that the Burgin district had the highest total battery scores in all three tested areas of all eight area school districts in the sixth and ninth grades. The Danville district, the second smallest in the area, recorded the highest score in the third grade.

Burgin recorded the highest score for the total battery for all three grades - a 75 percentile score by ninth-graders. That score was 15 points higher than the next highest score for ninth-graders - 60 for Boyle County - and exceeded the 52 percentile state average score by 23 points.

In addition, Burgin's results in reading, language and math for the ninth grade ranked seventh statewide among the Kentucky's 231 high schools.


Meanwhile, results from all area districts generally were uneven when comparing scores for all three grades with state averages.

For the third grade, the state average for the battery of 63. Danville (66) and Boyle County and Lincoln County (both 64) exceeded the average, while Burgin, Casey County, Garrard County, Harrodsburg and Mercer County fell below it, with scores ranging from 55 to 58.

For the sixth grade, the state average for the battery was 54. Burgin (66), Boyle (61), Mercer (50) and Casey (55) surpassed the state, while the other area districts fell short.

For the ninth grade, the state average for the battery was 52. Burgin (75), Boyle (60), Danville (58) and Mercer (56) exceeded that score and Casey (52) matched it, while the other area districts recorded lower scores.

Here's a district-by-district a look at the latest CTBS results:

Boyle County

Boyle County ranked at or above state levels districtwide in all areas except third grade math, but maintained or declined in math and language scores over 2002.

"We're pleased to see significant improvement in reading performance at four of our five schools, but we do not demonstrate consistent growth in language and math skills," said Paul Elwyn, communications officer for the district.

Elwyn said the district has implemented certain practices to focus attention on areas, like language and math, where improvement is needed.

"This is the third year of our standards-based learning initiative in the three elementary schools," he said. "We'll begin implementation of the math phase this year to join the writing and reading phases already in place. It's too early to see the impact of this initiative, but we're confident performance will continue to improve as students progress through the primary and elementary grades with consistent district-wide application of best instructional practices."

Elwyn said a key focus of the new initiatives is designed to bring all three elementary schools to the same level.

"Central to this effort are consistent instructional practices and learning standards throughout the district's three elementary schools, so regardless of where children attend school, they receive the same high quality of instruction and must meet the same high learning standards," he said.


Richard Webb, superintendent of Burgin Independent Schools, pointed to his district's high scores, and said, "I'm very proud of our students and teachers, but then I'd say that no matter what the scores were."

Burgin High School's scores placed it third in the state in reading behind Louisville Manual and Madison Model. It was seventh in language, eighth in math and seventh in total battery. The high school was in the top 1 percent in reading and 3 percent in the rest of the scores.

As is Webb's stand on any single group of statistics, he urges people to not put too much stock in a set of figures. He quoted an ad for a men's hair product. "Data is like 'Brille Cream; a little dab'll do ya.' An overabundance of data doesn't give you a clear picture.

"The figures change from year to year because you're testing two very different groups and that's just common sense. It validates that smaller can be better in a lot of ways, not just academically." Burgin is one of the two smallest districts in the state.

Casey County

Janet Emerson, assessment coordinator for the Casey district, said she is "very pleased overall with our district scores."

Emerson noted that the total battery score for the sixth grade was above the state average and the total battery score for the ninth grade was at the state average. However, she said that "we obviously still have some work to do" in the third grade, where the total battery score was several points lower than the state average.

"When comparing scores to state averages, we not only exceeded or matched the state in two grades but also showed progress in the third grade, even though the scores for the third still fell short of the state average," she said.

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