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Students finding success after graduation

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Report cards track school districts' progress.

By James Roberts

The grades are in and it seems the majority of local graduates are finding success after high school.

Issued each year by the Kentucky Department of Education, district and school report cards illustrate what schools are doing and how successful they are at doing it.

All parents will receive a report card for each school their children attends. Additionally, a district report card is also available at http://applications.kde.state.ky.us/schoolReportCardArchive.

The report cards provide information about each school, including test performance, teacher qualifications, student safety, awards, parent involvement and much more.

According to the district report cards, all Taylor County graduates found success after high school, either by attending college, getting a job, going into the military, seeking training or working while attending school as a part-time student. Only 4.5 percent of Campbellsville students were deemed "Not successful."

Campbellsville Independent

At Campbellsville Independent, 43.3 percent 2006-2007 graduates attended college, 29.9 percent went to work, 14.9 percent worked while attending school part-time, 6 percent enrolled in vocational/technical training, 4.5 percent were "not successful" and 1.5 percent enlisted in the military.

"There are many factors that influence a student to make the decision to go to college," said Campbellsville Independent Superintendent Diane Woods-Ayers. "We will continue to provide the academic preparation that will allow a student to be successful in college. Our teachers are using the latest research-based strategies and best practices in their classrooms."

The number of CHS graduates going to work after high school increased more than 10 percent over the previous year. Woods-Ayers said that is a sign of the times.

"This is a reflection of the tough economic times that we are experiencing. Students are going to work due to continuing rising tuition costs at technical schools, colleges and universities."

The number of "not successful" students increased from 1.2 percent to 4.5 percent.

"This is part of the data that has troubled us and we are working to address," Woods-Ayers said. "There are many factors that have to be considered. We know that less students met the requirements. Now our task is to figure out why and make the necessary adjustments"

According to the report card, Campbellsville's EXPLORE and PLAN scores are below state averages, a fact the District is now working to address.

"Principals and District instructional staff are reviewing these results and making modifications to instruction," Woods-Ayers said. "In addition, we are preparing students on norm reference test taking strategies to ensure every student is proficient on the test. We have also been more focused on curriculum alignment, professional learning communities and frequent monitoring of student progress."

The District is holding fewer students back, according to the report. The number of students retained a grade dropped a percent to 1.2 percent. Additionally, the dropout rate also dipped from 2.5 percent to 1.8 percent. Both the retention rate and the dropout rate are lower than state averages.

The graduation rate is also up - 89.1 percent to 90.5 percent - and is significantly higher than the state average of 83.8 percent.

The small classroom size plays a part in student success, Woods-Ayers said.

The average dollar amount spent per student is slightly less than last year, but still higher than the state average.

The report card also shows that parental involvement is up, with the number of volunteer hours rising by nearly 1,000.

"At both the school and district level, we have made a concerted effort to involve parents in the education of their children in meaningful ways," Woods-Ayers said. "We use our one call system extensively to let parents know of activities that will occur at each school."

Taylor County

At Taylor County Schools, 53.1 percent of 2006-2007 graduates attended college, 30.2 percent went to work, 11.7 percent enrolled in vocational/technical training, 3.1 percent worked while attending school part-time, 1.9 percent enlisted in the military and none were deemed "not successful."

"Our goal is to educate all students so that if they wish to attend college/university, they will be successful," said Donald Brockman, Taylor County instructional supervisor. "We realize all students do not see college as something they wish to pursue.

"Vocational/technical training, rather than college, is chosen by some of our students. Again, this depends upon the grade and student population. It varies from year to year. Taylor County strives to provide an engaging learning environment for all students. The idea is that all students have a purpose and place in society and that they desire to be a productive member of society."

EXPLORE and PLAN scores are either up or relatively unchanged and all are above state averages.

"The scores on the readiness tests for grade 8 [EXPLORE] and grade 10 [PLAN] show that our instruction is preparing our students for success in high school and college," Brockman said. "Our curriculum engages students and is aligned with Kentucky's Core Content."

The District is holding fewer students back, while also seeing fewer dropout and more graduates.

The retention rate dipped a tenth of a percent to 1.1 percent. The dropout rate was cut in half, dropping from 1.4 percent of .7 percent. The graduation rate rose from 88.8 percent to 92.1 percent. All rates are better than state averages.

After-school help is key in keeping students on track, Brockman said.

"Interventions must be in place for students needing assistance. Students who slip in performance must be given assistance to continue on target. After school interventions are one of the keys to preventing retentions."

Orientation is a big help in keeping students in school, Brockman said.

"There must be an orientation for transition from one school level to another. At Taylor County High School, Freshmen Focus assists students in this orientation and reduces dropouts."

As for the strong graduation rate, Brockman attributes that to high expectations.

"We feel our students enjoy their school experience in Taylor County. The graduation rate is high because our expectations for our students are high. At the present time, we have eight Nationally Board Certified staff in the district."

The average dollar amount spent per student is about $800 less than last year and is less than the state average.

"There have been cuts in education funding lately," Brockman said. "Taylor County relies more heavily on state funds than some of the larger districts. State funding cuts have a much greater impact on small districts and thus less money per student."

The report card also shows that parental involvement hasn't changed much, but volunteer hours are down by about 200.

"Taylor County has very good parent involvement. Our schools certainly invite parents to be a part of their child's education. We certainly hope the parent involvement drop in 2007-2008 is just a one-year drop and not a trend."

- Staff Writer James Roberts can be reached at 465-8111 Ext. 226 or by e-mail at writer@cknj.com. Comment on this story at www.cknj.com.