By Karen Gutierrez
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The most important test scores of the year - CATS, or the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System - have just been released for Northern Kentucky schools. Here's what parents need to know:
Most schools in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties have made solid improvement since 2000. Only Ludlow High School, Latonia Elementary School in Covington, Cline Elementary in Cold Spring and James A. Caywood Elementary in Kenton County have not improved compared to 2000.
Of the 14 districts in the three counties, Fort Thomas performed best overall and second-best in the state. Walton-Verona was second among the 14 Northern Kentucky districts, followed by Beechwood, Boone County and Erlanger-Elsmere.
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Covington's schools rank among the bottom 30 percent statewide. But nearly all continue to improve, and that's what matters under Kentucky's accountability system. Three Covington elementaries - Sixth District, Ninth District and Glenn O. Swing - already have exceeded 2004 improvement goals set for them by the state.
"Generally speaking, we're pleased with the scores," said Jeff Volter, Covington's executive director of learning support.
Each school's score, or index, is based primarily on the results of tests taken the previous spring by third- through 11th-graders.
The tests cover what students should be learning in various subjects.
Parents soon will be receiving their own children's scores, either through the mail or at parent-teacher conferences beginning this month.
Some critics think the CATS tests aren't difficult enough. Others say schools should be compared to their counterparts nationally, not to their own performance in previous years.
Nevertheless, CATS scores remain critically important to teachers and principals in the state.
Every two years, these scores determine which schools get rewards and which are deemed in need of state assistance.
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