The great state of Kentucky is known for many amazing things, from racing to bluegrass music to college basketball. The people of the state also pride themselves on their education, but not all schools are up to par. Today, we’ll be talking about the worst schools in Kentucky and what parents should be aware of when researching schools for their kids.
When we’re gauging the best and worst schools, we look at many factors. For the middle and elementary schools, we look at factors such as test scores, student progress, equity, and more. When we move onto high schools, we’re looking at those aspects but also how the school is preparing the students for college or life after school. Finally, for college, we’ll look at the lowest graduation rates.
Worst Schools in Kentucky: Elementary Schools
In some respects, elementary school is one of the important times of a young child’s education. This is one of the first building blocks, and doing well here means that they can do well as they go on through their educational career. Parents need to find elementary schools that prioritize test scores and student progress, and unfortunately, these schools miss the mark.
R E Stevenson Elementary School
Our first school is in the Russellville Independent School District. It’s located in Russellville, KY, and it has 454 students at this time. The school serves kids in grades 1-5. According to GreatSchools.org, this elementary school has test scores that fall far below the state average, which means that they may not be performing at grade level. The test scores in question are in core classes, such as reading, math, social studies, and editing and mechanics.
There are also some issues with equity here for underserved, low-income, and disabled students. According to GreatSchools, they’re falling behind other students in the state, which indicates potential achievement gaps at the school. There’s a slight difference in test scores between low-income students and the other students, which indicates that they may not be getting the attention that they deserve. Also, students with disabilities are suspended more often than students that aren’t considered disabled. On a good note, the student base is fairly diverse, with multiple races represented.
Finally, as for the teachers at the school, the good news is that 100% of the teachers are certified. However, only 63% of them have three years of experience or more. There’s also a student-to-teacher ratio of 17:1, which isn’t terrible but could be improved. Finally, there’s only one counselor for every 488 students.
Cravens Elementary School
The next school in Owensboro, Kentucky is Cravens Elementary School, which is part of the Owensboro Independent School District. This school has some of the similar issues to the previous institution, including poor test scores and some problems with equity. As for the test scores, they fall far below the state average in several subjects, including math, reading, science, writing, editing, and social studies. At best, there’s a 23% proficiency in reading. At worst, there’s a 10% proficiency in science, which is below the 29% state average.
As far as equity, there’s a difference in test scores between low-income and underserved students versus the other students. That indicates an achievement gap. Differences in test scores also provides the impression that some students aren’t getting the personalized attention that they need. There’s also a 10% difference in the suspension rates between students with disabilities vs students without disabilities. Any suspension is bad because it means that the kids were not in school, so they lose out on learning opportunities.
For teaching, 100% of them are certified and there’s a decent student-to-teacher ratio of 15:1. However, only 72% of the teachers have three years of experience or more.
Grandview Elementary School
Then there’s Grandview Elementary, which is part of the Bellevue Independent School District in Bellevue, Kentucky. It has 320 students in grades pre-kindergarten to 5th grade. The test scores here are also well below the state average. The test scores for reading are 15% compared to the 45% state average. The test scores for math are 18% compared to the 38% average. Finally, the test scores for social studies at this school are 13% compared to the 37% state average.
On the equity front, the underserved students here are also falling behind other students in the state. There are also some gaps when it comes to discipline and attendance since they’re higher for black students, Hispanic students, and students that are made up of two or more races than they are for white students. That may indicate that not all students are getting the same attention. Again, suspension for any student is bad.
The bright spot here is the teaching. There’s a 15:1 student-to-teacher ratio, which is fairly good, and 100% of the students are certified. Also, 88% of the teachers have three years of experience or more.
Worst Schools in Kentucky: Middle Schools
In many ways, finding a good middle school is just as important as grade school because your kids need to progress from grade to grade and retain their knowledge. If they don’t, they could quickly fall behind. There are almost 1,000 middle schools in Kentucky, and many of them are great for students, but these could use some help.
Paris Middle School
The first school, Paris Middle School, is part of the Paris Independent School District, and it’s a smaller school with 149 students. This school has some issues with test scores and equity. First, the test scores. They’re low, especially in core classes like reading, math, social studies, and writing mechanics. In most of these categories, the scores are about 20 points below the state average.
This is also the point in a child’s education where they should start to have an interest in advanced courses, like Algebra 1. However, there’s less than a 1% participation rate in those classes at this school. The issue may be the teaching, since although 100% of the teachers are certified, only 73% of them have three years of experience or more.
On the equity front, the numbers indicate that underserved students are falling behind others in the state, especially when it comes to test scores. More specifically, Hispanic students are falling behind white students, which indicates that the group may not be getting the support they need. Also, students with disabilities are suspended at 26%, while all other students are suspended 17% of the time. High suspension means less time for learning and teaching.
Stuart Middle School
Next is Stuart Middle School, which is in Louisville, KY. It’s part of the Jefferson County School District, and it serves 822 students in grades 7-8. There are issues here with test scores. According to GreatSchools.org, the test scores here are much lower than other schools in the state. There are very low averages in reading, math, social studies, and writing. Social studies is the lowest at 7%, which is well below the 36% state average. As far as those advanced courses, there’s only a 10% participation rate. The good news is that there’s a 79% pass rate.
GreatSchools also gives this school a one out of 10 when it comes to equity. Part of the reason is that underserved students are falling behind other students in the state. For equity, we look at test scores for different races and age groups, and in this case, test scores for all races are poor. The same goes for low-income and non-low-income students.
Also, this school does have the issue of having a higher suspension rate for students with disabilities than other students that aren’t considered disabled.
Perhaps the most startling fact is related to the teachers. While 100% of the teachers are fully certified, only 22% of them have three years of experience or more. That indicates that there are many new teachers who may not necessarily have the experience to bring your kids to the next level.
Conway Middle School
Our final middle school is Conway Middle School out of Louisville. It’s part of the Jefferson County School District, and it has 822 students in grades 6-8. This school continues the trend of low test scores in basic classes like reading, math, writing, social studies, and writing. The best test scores are in reading at 17% versus the 44% state average. These test scores fall far below the state average. There’s also the lack of students in advanced courses. Participation in Algebra 1, for instance, is at 5%. The good news is that there’s an 88% pass rate amongst those students.
There are some very concerning statistics here when it comes to equity. Most concerning is the suspension rate. There are high suspension rates for many different races at this school. Black students have a 35% suspension rate, Asian students have a 25% suspension rate, and students of two or more races have a 20% suspension rate. The problem is that when these students are suspended this often, they’re not in school learning. Also, the higher suspension rates for certain groups point to discipline policies that may not be fair. As a final note, students with disabilities are suspended at 40% versus all other students at 22%
Finally, for teaching, 100% of the teachers are certified, and 78% of the teachers have three years of experience or more. However, there’s a high 18:1 student-to-teacher ratio and a high student-to-counselor ratio of 405:1
Worst Schools in Kentucky: High Schools
Choosing a good high school is important because, just as elementary school is essential since it’s one of the first forms of education your child may receive, high school may be the last form of education. In addition to helping students get good test scores, the teachers in high school are also responsible for preparing the kids for life at college or outside of school. That’s why, in this category, we’ll also grade the scores on college readiness.
Iroquois High School
Our first high school is part of the Jefferson County School District, and it has 1,208 students in grades 9-12. According to the data on GreatSchools.org, this school is far below the state average in test scores and college prep. The students are achieving low scores in common classes like reading, social studies, and writing. There’s also a surprising lack of students taking advanced courses like AP math and science. In fact, less than 1% of students are taking those two classes.
The low test scores mean that even if a student does graduate, their chances of getting into a good school may be limited. Currently, there’s an 83% graduation rate, which is not great but is fairly average for schools these days. Of those graduates, only 45% say that they plan to attend college or a vocational school. Students who plan to attend and take the ACT test are getting an average score of 13, which is well below the average of 18 that many colleges look for when accepting applicants.
On the discipline front, 54% of disabled students are chronically absent versus 30% for the other students, which indicates some problems. Both numbers are high, which indicates that there may be issues with the teaching. Though 100% of the teachers are certified, only 61% have three years of experience or more.
Doss High School
Doss High School is in Jefferson County, and it’s a large public school with 1,022 students in grades 9-12. This school has many of the same issues as the last entry with test scores and college readiness. The test scores here are also quite low in reading, math, and editing. The lowest test scores are in social studies at 10%, which is much lower than the state average of 35%, which in itself isn’t great. Very few students in this school are taking advanced courses.
The high school has a graduation rate of 85%. Of those students, 41% plan to attend college or a vocational school. Of those that attend college, 70% need remediation during college, and only 65% return for a second year. This all indicates that the students may not be getting the support they need during high school. As for the teaching, 100% of the teachers are certified, but only 71% have three years of experience or more.
Western High School
Also in Jefferson County, Western High School is a medium-sized public school with 684 students in grades 9-12. This institution also has issues with college readiness and testing, and the scores here are the worst of the high schools we’ve reviewed. Test scores are low in core classes, including math, reading, and social studies. Low test scores at this level indicate that the student might not do well in college. Also, less than 1% of the students are taking any AP courses.
This school has a low graduation rate of 73%, and only 34% of the graduates intend to attend a college or vocational school. The students who graduate and take the ACT test are getting an average score of 14, which is below the average state score of 18. Many colleges will also consider 18 to be too low for acceptance.
Finally, the school has some issues that the other schools on this list have, including the fact that students with disabilities are suspended more than students that don't have disabilities. Also, while 100% of the teachers are certified, only 67% of them have three years of experience or more.
Worst Colleges in Kentucky
When we look at the worst colleges in Kentucky, we focus on the lowest graduation rates. If students aren't graduating, it could mean that the school is not providing what the student needs or that the student doesn’t consider the school to be worth their while. In any case, it’s bad news. Here are the colleges with the lowest graduation rates in Kentucky, per CollegeSimply.com:
- University of Phoenix Louisville Campus – 11%
- Jefferson Community and Technical College – 12.9%
- Bluegrass Community and Technical College – 17/4%
- Kentucky State University – 20.9%
- Beckfield College Florence – 25.1%
- Brescia University – 27.9%
This has been your list of the worst schools in Kentucky. Keep in mind that, on average, the schools in this state are quite good, but these just miss the mark. Parents should always do their research about potential schools before enrolling their children. If you see stats like those shared above, then be cautious before going forward.
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