Soon, Hancock County students will be receiving their first report cards, as October 28 marks the end of the first nine weeks of school. Long part of American education, a report card reflects the academic progress a student has made in a given subject area for a given length of time. Report cards also may share other information, such as a student’s behavior, attendance, class rank, and other data related to their time spent at school. They serve not only as a method of reporting student academic accountability but as a way to show opportunities for growth.
While anyone who has been in school may be familiar with receiving a report card, some may be less familiar with the report cards issued to schools and school districts. Beginning as early as 1965, federal law has required some sort of accountability in public education. For most states, this meant developing a reporting system for districts and schools.
What must be reported has changed over the years, with the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 further expanding what schools and districts must report to the public. Today, Kentucky issues a report card for every public school and school district in the Commonwealth. According to the Kentucky Department of Education website, “School and District Report Cards provide information about each school and district, including test performance, teacher qualifications, student safety, awards, parent involvement and much more.”
Kentucky’s School Report Card website is free and available to the public, providing access to a wealth of information on each school and district in the state. One feature of the website allows users to compare schools to each other. These comparisons are useful in determining in which areas a school is performing well and in which areas a school needs improvement.
Hancock County High School staff are committed to providing world-class, high quality education opportunities to each and every student. According to principal Ginger Estes, the most recent school report card issued by KDE highlights some of the gains made in academics, as compared to other schools in the region. “Hancock County High School is making huge strides towards our goal of being number one in the region and state,” Estes explained. “We are proud of the gains that the State Report Card shows, but being able to develop goals for growth is where the value in the State Report Card really shines.”
For example, based on the data available on the State Report Card website, Hancock County High School ranked fourth out of twelve regional districts in reading and first in math on last year’s state accountability test. On the ACT, HCHS scored at or above the median in the three content areas of Reading, Math, and Science. While these scores show improvement from recent years, Estes acknowledged the importance of recognizing and celebrating growth but to keep focused on continual improvement in all areas.
“Last year’s scores must be examined through a ‘COVID lens’ so we have to be careful with any kind of true comparison,” Estes said. Nevertheless, she said it was a great place to start. “We are looking forward to continuing the incline toward being number one in all areas,” Estes added.
HCHS math teachers agreed that while being recognized for growth this year was nice, most credit had to go to students and that the only way to continue doing well was through continued hard work. However, they wanted to make sure that students were praised and recognized for their relentlessness in overcoming challenges brought on by the pandemic. One of the challenges of the pandemic was how to continue meeting the needs of students while conducting virtual and hybrid learning.
Susan Ewing, a math teacher at HCHS, praised how dedicated students were at attending online sessions. “In a large class of 32 Geometry students, consistently 25 would be present with Google Meets and engaged in their learning,” Ewing explained. Of those students who couldn’t attend the scheduled meetings, many arranged for other ways to get help from their teachers. “Both students and teachers made themselves readily available during non-traditional hours during the day,” math teacher Michele Nevitt said.
Additionally, special education teachers Sara Brown and Cindy Garvin explained that individual tutoring sessions, daily phone calls, and a massive amount of extra communication to parents helped keep students on track.
Brad Goodall, who also taught math last year, added that students worked with new programs, such as an online calculator, that helped familiarize themselves with the state assessment version of the math tool. The teachers also explained that the playlist model (for which Hancock County was recently recognized by the state) helped align and adapt the curriculum for the unusual teaching circumstances of last year. Ewing, Goodall, and Nevitt also expressed how specific intervention time in the spring helped bridge the learning gap from the fall, when learning was virtual.
While HCHS is proud of last year’s academic accomplishments, there is little question that this is only the beginning. Teachers, staff, and students are continuing to work hard and hope to see even more progress being made when next year’s report card is ready.
By Josh Scherrer