The student news site of Highlands High School

The Hilltopper

The student news site of Highlands High School

The Hilltopper

The student news site of Highlands High School

The Hilltopper

The power of academics, or not?: Kentucky Department of Education’s rating of Highlands High School drops

Each year, The Kentucky Department of Education grades each Kentucky school’s academic excellence based on KSA and ACT scores of students. 

This department grades on a color scale from blue, green, yellow and red. With red being the lowest and blue being the highest. 

Here, at Highlands High School, we have always strived for excellence. According to U.S News and World Report, Highlands High School comes in 3rd place for best schools in Kentucky, however, test scores seem to argue that figure. 

According to the Kentucky Department of Education. Though the usual rating for HHS is blue, this year this school has taken a shift slightly in the negative direction, in the green area. 


The levels in reading and mathematics both dropped from the 2021-2022 school year. The reading levels dropped from an average of 93, to an average of 85, and mathematics dropped from an average of 89.5 to an average of 80. 

This shocking gap cannot be ignored in such a high-performing school as HHS. 

According to the vice superintendent, Keith Faust, this shock was somewhat expected. 

“Yes, I feel our indicated color rating is accurate based on the measures and the system the state put in place around accountability for the spring KSA (Kentucky Summative Assessment)…” said Faust.

 Faust went on to say that the rating is one data point that should be analyzed, but it does not tell the whole story of HHS and by KDE’s admission, the scoring is very complex.  

“For example, HHS has the top composite ACT score in NKY at 23.2, however according to the most recent SCR (school report card) we are at a level green which is a drop from our score of blue in the spring of ’22 and schools with a far lower composite ACT are ranked above HHS.”  

Faust said later that: “In summary, I would say I feel the results of the KSA for HHS are complex and we should analyze the results but do not jump to conclusions good or bad about the end result.”

And even though a drop from past scores and rankings of HHS, Faust is optimistic for improvement. 

“I have been in FTIS for over 22 years, we have always prided ourselves on not preparing or doing any test prep for any one assessment. I think the best thing we can do to improve is to show up every day, give our very best effort.” 

Faust said that HHS teaches at a higher level and when it comes time to demonstrate our learning: “Whether it is a performance-based task like a debate, or writing an article, or performing on a standardized test if we give it our best effort and the staff believe the students of HHS will show up and do just fine.” 

And so Highlands High School will not lose hope. They will keep on trying their best, just as always. 

“I am 100% confident HHS is going to be just fine moving forward regardless of assessment because we have the best students, community, and staff in the state,” said Faust.  

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