Paducah schools see improvement, striving for more
Paducah Public Schools earned an overall score of 64 in the state's 2014-2015 Unbridled Learning accountability system, up from 62.9 last year. This classifies the district as "Needs Improvement," but only 2.2 points away from a "Proficient" classification.

In the interest of continuous improvement, the district has zeroed in on several "breakthrough" processes and programs and will be working this year to spread them throughout the district. Black mentioned improved use of student assessment data to drive instruction, implementing more effective intervention processes for kids who are falling behind, while also improving enrichment processes for kids who are ahead.

"Our mission now is to standardize those breakthroughs that we've experienced," Black said. "We are doing that through short-cycle problem solving and teacher teams where we share data, we share those breakthroughs, and we talk about best practices to help guide them, coach them and answer their questions."

To that end, Tilghman will host an after-school, teacher-led workshop next week to give teachers a chance to ask questions of one another. Black said they'll also offer individualized coaching to teachers who are invested in improving. Much like with Paducah's students, the district wants to be sure it's meeting the individualized needs of teachers, too, he said.

Tilghman saw significant improvements in its students' college- and career-readiness (CCR) and graduation rates, Assistant Principal Jonathan Smith told the board. Their overall score improved from a 61.3 last year to a 62.8. Tilghman is currently classified as a "Proficient" school, but Smith said they're shooting for "Distinguished."

In addition to improving instruction, Smith said they've made some small changes that helped improve the school's CCR numbers. For example, the scheduling process to help students stay on track toward becoming college- and career-ready has been improved.

Paducah Middle saw improvement across the board in this year's K-PREP results. Though even with this year's gains the school remains classified as "Needs Improvement," it earned the added distinction of "Progressing" this year because of the significant gains.

Paducah Middle Principal Stacey Overlin also pointed out that they've seen improvements that can't be measured in a test.

"Since I've moved from Paducah Tilghman over to the middle school, we've faced two issues - raising expectations and accountability, or improving test scores if you will, but then also changing the school culture and environment," Overlin told the board.

"I feel like we're taking steps in both directions. Again, we're not satisfied, never will be, and always want to improve. Every day, every year. But I feel like the ship is starting to turn now. I know I smile more."

Contact Genevieve Postlethwait, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651.
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