K-PREP 2016: Murray Ind. scores highest district in the state at 85.6; all three schools rated Schools of Distinction...

Ledger & Times, Murray, Sept. 29, 2016

MISD’s 85.6 score ranks as tops in Bluegrass State
by JOHN WRIGHT

Upon discussing his district’s performance in the most recent Unbridled Learning testing for Kentucky students, Bob Rogers was rather coy Tuesday, two days before the scores could be publicly unveiled today.

However, the Murray Independent School District superintendent did say one thing that, for anyone who knows him, should have been a sign.

“They’re pretty good,” Rogers remarked, prior to leaving for Bowling Green for a statewide meeting.

And he was right. MISD’s scores were “pretty good.” Actually, they were better than “pretty good.”

MISD’s cumulative score of 85.6, in fact, was the highest of any district in the commonwealth.

“That’s something we’ve been trying to do for a while,” Rogers said Wednesday afternoon as he returned from that conference in Bowling Green, where MISD’s performance had been of great discussion.
“I did have several people come up and congratulate us on it, saying that they were glad to see someone from this end of the state up there.

“We’ve had years where we’ve been third, then fourth – still very high. You always hoped. though, to be the best. Well, it happened this year.”

In 2014, Murray Elementary ended No. 1 for students in kindergarten through third grade with a 91.7 score. That year, the district itself finished third overall.

Murray Elementary was once again very strong, notching an 88.5 for that same level. An impressive showing also came for Murray Middle with its fourth- and fifth-graders not only scoring an 87.9, but improving by more than 13 points from the previous year to do it. Murray Elementary’s 88.5 came as a 6.4-point improvement.

Murray High also had more than a 6-point improvement, finishing at 86.6.

Murray Elementary’s combined average of 88.0 (for the K-3 and grades 4-5) was second in Kentucky.

Murray Middle’s sixth- through eighth-grade students finished with an 82.1, which put it 12th in the commonwealth in that division. Murray High’s 86.6 was seventh overall.

All three campuses will be designated as Schools of Distinction.

“It’s just one of those things where you strive to do your best,” Rogers said. “The teachers work so hard every day and the students work so hard every day. Then there are our parents, supporting those kids every day. Obviously, this makes you proud.

“The one thing I take from this, though, is that we tell our kids, ‘If you do your best ... if you do your best ... if you do your best, good things will happen. It’s so great to be able to watch them see that through this, and what’s really interesting to me is none of our individual schools was No. 1 this time, like Murray Elementary was in 2014. To get something like this takes all of them.

“Any time you have all of your schools finish above 80, you’re doing pretty well. So we’ll take this and keep on working for next year.”

Murray Elementary Principal Denise Whitaker was very pleased with another strong showing for her campus and district in general.

“We are extremely proud of our students and entire MES team,” she said. “Our teachers and staff love and believe in every child. Every day, the students are excited to learn and work hard to reach amazing levels of success.”

Murray Elementary Principal Denise Whitaker was very pleased with another strong showing for her campus and district in general.

“We are extremely proud of our students and entire MES team,” she said. “Our teachers and staff love and believe in every child. Every day, the students are excited to learn and work hard to reach amazing levels of success.”

Lou Carter is now MISD’s instructional supervisor, but had been Murray Middle principal until February, when a medical condition forced her to leave that position.

“What a stellar showing of our students’ academic achievement across the school district!” she said. “We know we can’t stop our focus now, as plans are already in action to continue novice reduction.”

Carter’s thoughts were echoed by the man who has assumed the principal’s spot at Murray Middle, Bob Horne.

“It’s a testament to everyone’s hard work as a team,” he said.

As for Murray High Principal Teresa Speed, she said these results come as part of the job in MISD.

“‘Every student every day’ is our motto, and we take it to heart,” Speed said. “The teachers and staff strive to build relationships and support students in achieving the highest path possible for each of their futures. The students are amazing and continue to push to the top.”

•Former Murray Middle Principal Alison Gregory was also able to celebrate a strong showing for her current school, Symsonia Elementary in Graves County. Symsonia finished with a solid 86.9 score that was 21st in the state and fourth-best for western Kentucky schools.

Also, in a story that had the attention of numerous educators statewide, Fulton County, which has been a focus district in past years, made one of the most dramatic jumps seen since Unbridled Learning was established, going from 55.4 as a district before to 70 this year, with Fulton County High School becoming a School of Distinction with an 81.6, way above its goal of 62.4.
Unbridled Learning was created through a state Senate bill that passed in 2009. The legislation addressed many areas, including what students should learn, what will be tested, how subjects will be tested, when tests are given and what should comprise the public school accountability system.

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