Forty-seven Kentucky schools have been labeled Bright Spots in Kentucky Education in a new report released by the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence and the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) in the Gatton College of Business and Economics at the University of Kentucky. Cumberland Trace Elementary and Plano Elementary in Warren County are among those on the list.
“It is a tremendous honor to have the Prichard Committee recognize Cumberland Trace and Plano elementaries for the staff’s impact on student learning. This accomplishment reflects a commitment to high standards and a strong desire for continuous improvement by the staff at both schools,” stated Warren County Public Schools Superintendent Rob Clayton. “We see our educators upholding this commitment every day and it’s always nice to be highlighted by others outside of our organization.”
Cumberland Trace principal Wes Cottongim and Ben Frasier, Plano Elementary principal, said the educators and students at both schools have worked diligently over the years to achieve this distinction.
“At Cumberland Trace, we are blessed with a wonderful staff, exceptional students, and a supportive parent base,” said Cottongim. “It literally takes a village to see success! We want to thank the Prichard Committee for this honor.”
"I can't think of a higher honor for a school than being recognized for exceeding academic expectations based upon socioeconomic factors,” said Frasier. “Education should be a vehicle for opening new opportunities, and I'm very proud that Plano Elementary has proof we are accomplishing that goal."
Researchers from CBER, with support from and in partnership with the Prichard Committee, analyzed 2011-12 to 2018-19 education data from the state’s 1,466 schools. They identified key factors affecting academic achievement and constructed statistical models to predict an expected level of performance on state assessments.
"We looked at elementary and middle school performance on the K-PREP reading and math assessments, as well as the performance of high school students on the ACT," said Michael Childress, a research associate with CBER. "Student, community and district characteristics were also taken into consideration."
As a result of this analysis, 28 elementary schools, 4 middle schools, and 15 high schools were named Bright Spots in Kentucky Education, with some schools qualifying as Bright Spots in more than one category.
Two key findings of the analysis, consistent with others across the nation, are that teacher experience and the socioeconomic status of students have a significant impact on achievement levels.
“We know that teachers matter, and these results can offer insight into how Kentucky can continue to improve education, while also breaking the cycle of deep poverty in our state,” Brigitte Blom Ramsey, CEO of the Prichard Committee, said. "These results can inform additional research designed to reveal best practices that facilitate better-than-expected educational outcomes ?— given that Kentucky remains near the bottom of the nation for families living in poverty.”