Hickman County High School: A Distinguished, High Performing School Ranking Second in State in College and Career Readiness
School District Scores Proficient
The Hickman County Falcons are soaring high after the release of the new Unbridled Learning Accountability Model places the high school in the 94th percentile in the state earning a Distinguished classification and labeling the school as a "high performing school.” Added to that is the notification that the school placed second in the state in the College and Career Readiness and fourth in the state in attendance. Larry Farlee, Hickman County High School principal, is proud of his staff and students. "We work at it every day. It takes all of us to make it happen."
The district ranked in the 79th percentile which put it in the Proficient classification. The middle school ranked in the 61st percentile while the elementary school ranked in the 49th percentile. This is the first release of data from the new accountability model developed after the passage of Senate Bill 1 and implemented in the 2011-2012 school year. Instead of a one-time achievement test like the former Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS) that was given towards the end of the year where students scored novice, apprentice, proficient, or distinguished (NAPD), students and schools are now evaluated on a weighted point system in five primary areas. These areas still include student achievement and NAPD categories, but add gaps in academic performance among different groups of students; annual growth for every student; college and career readiness; and high school graduation rate.
The state has developed a system where each school receives points and an overall score on a scale of 1 to 100. These scores are then rank ordered by district and by elementary, middle, and high school levels. Percentiles are then established so that each school and district receives a percentile score. Districts and schools with an overall score in the top 10% (or 90th percentile or above) will be labeled Distinguished while those with an overall score in the next 20% (70th to 89th percentile) will be labeled Proficient and all others that score in the 69th percentile or below will be labeled in the Needs Improvement category. All schools will be given an annual measurable objective (AMO) that will get them to proficiency within five years.
Comparing the CATS scores to the Unbridled Learning scores "would be like comparing apples to oranges" according to District Assessment Coordinator Dianne Owen. The new testing system has more detailed reports and is a more rigorous testing system including the new Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-Prep) achievement tests; End of Course tests in Algebra II, English II, Biology and History; EXPLORE, PLAN, ACT, COMPASS, ASVAB and KOSSHA tests. "The bar has been raised. The standards are higher, but our students and faculty are rising to the challenge. There will be a learning curve as everyone adjusts to the new system, but it does give us a more comprehensive view of how well our schools are doing in all areas," stated Owen.
In the new K-Prep achievement tests, Hickman County middle school students scored higher than the state average in every test they took including reading 63.1 (59.0); math 63.9 (59.7); science 86.5 (79.0); social studies 83.1 (78.2); writing 64.2 (63.6); and language mechanics 57.4 (52.1). High school students scored higher in writing 76.8 (64.3) and language mechanics 100 (67.4) and also did well on the new End of Course tests scoring higher percentages of Proficient and Distinguished than the state average in English II 55.6 (52.2) and Algebra II 58.6 (40.0) but scoring under in History 36.8 (39.5) and Biology 11.3 (30.3).
Elementary schools receive scores from three of the five primary areas and so more weight is placed on achievement, gap and growth scores. Hickman County Elementary students scored slightly behind the state averages placing them in the Needs Improvement category. "The scores show that there is a need to focus on reading, writing, and math and we are doing that this year with a new math readiness program, reading and math intervention teachers, a reading and math coach and the development of a revised writing plan that correlates to the new program review writing standards," shared elementary principal, Jan Johnson. "We expect to see the scores go up this year as our teachers and students adjust to the new testing system." Scores for the elementary as compared to the state average are: reading 50.3 (60.9); math 44.4 (59.6); science 83.4 (92.4); social studies 82.1 (77.0); writing 47.7 (56.5); and language mechanics 58.4 (64.5).
Hickman County's emphasis on preparing students for the ACT college placement exam was evident in the students' overall composite of 19.8 as compared to the state average of 19.0. The 8th graders who took the EXPLORE scored an average of 15.5 as compared to the state average of 15.2 with over 72.9% of the 8th graders meeting the benchmark for English. The 10th graders who took the PLAN had higher percentages than the state average in every benchmark with 90.8 percent of the students meeting the benchmark for English and having an overall composite of 18.2 as compared to the state average of 17.0. These scores enable Hickman County juniors and seniors to qualify to take dual-credit college courses in high school. "Every senior and 75% of our juniors are enrolled in dual-credit classes through the Falcon Academy this year,” according to Assistant Superintendent and Falcon Academy Director Casey Henderson.
"We are proud of our kids,” stated Superintendent Kenny Wilson. He praised the teachers, staff, administrators, board, parents, and community for “the way they have supported our students."
Wilson credits the high scores to an emphasis on the EXPLORE, PLAN, and ACT tests that prepares students to be college and career ready; the creation of the Falcon Academy, a dual- credit college program that was started three years ago with MSU, WKCTC and Mid-Continent; a strong partnership with the Fulton County Area Technical Center where Hickman County students are being prepared for technical careers and earning industry certificates; and excellent parent and community involvement.
Wilson says it takes everyone from preschool to post-secondary working every day to ensure that students stay on track and get the work done. "There's a new culture at Hickman County and we don't accept anything less than their best."