Oldham County targets both exceptional and at-risk students for academic success

12/09/2014 09:45 AM

BUCKNER — Oldham County Schools have traditionally been one of the top performing districts in the state, having received a distinguished rating and ranked 7th overall in the state in the 2013/ 2014 Kentucky Department of Education rankings.

Even though Oldham County is a strong performing school district, administrators admit that one of the keys in the districts overall success is that all students, even at-risk students with some barriers, are targeted through innovative programs to achieve academic success.

One program instituted by the district this year targets high-priority kindergarten students moving on to first grade at LaGrange Elementary, which school officials say has a higher at-risk student population, with 55 percent free and reduced lunch, and an annual mobility rate of 17 percent.

The program, Camp Literacy Live, offers intensive literacy intervention for 41 incoming first graders.

“We knew, leaving kindergarten, which students we needed to target, who is already below grade level in reading and we couldn’t afford for that summer lag to happen,” LaGrange Elementary principal Heather Thomas said.

“So, that’s what Camp Literacy Live helped prevent. We picked our students, they started in July, and some of them, because they already started in July in reading recovery with close relationships with parents, they’ve already graduated out with reading recovery and so that is a beautiful success. “

Meanwhile, beginning this year at the high school level, incoming freshman and sophomores that attend the three high schools in the county who are interested in engineering can apply to attend the Oldham County Engineering Academy, a partnership between Project Lead the Way – a curriculum for the STEM disciplines: science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The OCS Engineering Academy is a half-day program which accepts 75 freshman and sophomore students and employs project-based learning techniques for math and engineering.

“It approaches math in a different way, for them to actually be able to understand how to apply it as opposed to just working problems day to day,” said Terry Tinnell, a teacher at the Oldham County Engineering Academy.

“It’s a different approach, a different process. The students are learning a lot of engineering with their math which is a natural partnership.”

The Oldham County district has been changing in recent years, and overall enrollment is dropping.

- Free and reduced lunch has risen to 20.75 percent – Up from 15.2 percent in 2003. – The district has also seen enrollment level off. Between 1996 and 2005, the Oldham County district gained 4,000 students. Since then, it’s grown by only 1600 students.

Currently, six of the district’s nine elementary schools have received a distinguished rating from the Kentucky Department of Education while 2 of the 4 middle schools and all 3 high schools in the district have received the distinguished honor.


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