To borrow a phrase used recently by Floyd County Schools Superintendent Danny Adkins, the state assessment scores have been the “end-all, be-all” in this county for years.
We are glad that particular mantra is no longer regurgitated in this school district.
Under the former administration of Dr. Henry Webb, the district emphasized the need for high test scores, and, as scores improved in county schools, officials set a goal to become a Top 10 school district.
The district met that goal on state assessments in 2016 — its third year as a District of Distinction under the old testing system — with numerous schools earning banners that designated them as a “School of Distinction.”
But then, as we all now know, the Kentucky Department of Education found that district leaders engaged in “inappropriate state assessment practices” and that “special education was sought as a substitute for appropriate instruction so that accommodations could be used during statewide testing in the district.”
We also now know that officials at Betsy Layne Elementary “deliberately altered student exams and provided inappropriate assistance to students in order to improve achievement scores.”
Those revelations taught us all a very important lesson about the state assessment in Floyd County.
To put it simply, the students, the parents, the educators and the taxpayers of this county do not have an accurate picture of where our students are academically. Because of all of the hoopla that took place in the past in this district, we have not been able to see an accurate picture for years.
That’s a shame, and it makes moving forward a bit more difficult for our schools. But it also tells us something else.
This new system may be more accurate than assessment results released in prior years because it encompasses more than just test scores. But we implore our readers to understand that this new star rating system should not become the “end-all, be-all” in our county schools, either.
Schools that earned one star should not be ashamed. Schools that earned three stars should not celebrate that achievement as a badge of honor. The stars don’t matter.
We don’t care if a school gets one star or 50 stars. What we care about is whether the children who attend our public school system graduate with enough know-how to actually do something beneficial with their lives and in their communities. Eastern Kentucky needs these students to survive here in these mountains. We have a lot riding on the public education system that our taxpayers are funding.
Adkins told us that he believes these test scores are not indicative of the kind of instruction that’s going on in Floyd County classrooms, and we believe what he’s saying because we’ve seen some mighty passionate teachers doing their jobs.
It’s not time to label the district with stars. It’s time for all school district officials to care more about what kind of stars these students will reach for after they graduate.
We’re sure some educators already have their eye on that prize, as they did years ago. And we’re also sure that for others, old habits are hard to break. It’s time to break them.
The results released this week are like stepping stones.
We hope school district officials use this map to walk in the right direction.