Editor’s note: This story is about the test scores for the Russellville Independent Schools District. The results for the Logan County School District will be covered in our next edition.

Standardized tests scores were released Friday, Sept. 29, and the administration of the Russellville Independent district was pleased overall with the results.

“We made some significant improvements — especially in the areas of reading,” said RIS superintendent Bart Flener. “That is satisfying because reading has been a big focus for us with our Russellville Reads literacy grant. It’s really given us a good chance to raise our literacy rates.”

Reading is assessed in seven grade levels and Russellville saw the percentage of students reading at a “distinguished” level increase in five out of the seven grades.

In both reading and math, Stevenson Elementary saw a significant reduction in the number of students who tested at the “novice” level.

In the 2015-16 school year, 33.8 percent of students at Stevenson were reading at a novice level. That decreased to 31.0 percent last year. And in math, the percentage dropped from 28.2 percent to 20.4 percent.

The high school also saw a significant novice reduction in its end of course assessment tests. “Biology students, in particular scored at a novice level were at an all-time low for us,” Flener said. “And at the middle school, we saw some great novice reduction in both reading and math among our GAP students.”

Flener added that there are still several areas where the district can improve — especially with closing gaps for certain identified groups of students — but he is happy with the improvements that has been shown.

“We’re pleased with our progress and feel like we took some steps forward at all three schools and throughout our district,” Flener said. “I really feel like we’ve got some positive momentum. I told our teachers when we were celebrating our scoring increases, that we’ve made significant gains, but we don’t want to slip back or step back. We just want to keep charging forward with this momentum.”

Parents who look at this year’s test scores in depth will see some significant differences because Kentucky is in the process of phasing out its old accountability system, and replacing it with a new accountability system created under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and Kentucky Senate Bill 1 (2017). The new system is expected to be in place by the 2018-19 school year with accountability first reported in the 2019-20 school year.

As a result of the transition, this year’s release does not include overall accountability scores, classifications or rankings for schools and districts, although KDE will continue to support low-performing schools and districts during the transition period. This year’s release includes achievement, gap, growth, college- and career-readiness and graduation rate data. Data from Program Reviews, which Senate Bill 1 eliminated, is reported if a school or district chose to do so.