Fort Thomas Independent Schools ranked by the Kentucky Department of Education

On October 1, the Kentucky Department of Education released their accountability rankings for the 2018-2019 school year, with all Fort Thomas Independent Schools receiving either 4 or 5 star rankings. The purpose of accountability rankings are to make aware the shared vision of public K-12 education that equips students with the knowledge, skills, and disposition required to pursue their futures.

The Department has worked for two years perfecting the new system they used this year for judging accountability, which is aligned to the Every Student Succeeds Act. The system judges schools based on categories of what they find important for students to have during and upon completion of either elementary, middle, or high school.

This means the rankings analyze schools through multiple different categories, beyond just the test scores students receive on standardized tests. The categories schools are graded in include proficiency, separate academic indicator, growth (elementary and middle only), graduation rate (high school only), transition readiness, and quality of school climate and safety.

Across the entire district, Fort Thomas Independent Schools averaged a four star ranking, with Johnson, HMS and HHS receiving four stars and Moyer and Woodfill receiving five. In Northern Kentucky alone, only three elementary schools received five stars, and FTIS was proud to boast two of them.

In Northern Kentucky, no high schools were able to reach five stars. Highlands was eligible for a five star ranking, however, the achievement gap brought Highlands down to four stars, giving the district something to work on for the future.

Principal Matthew Bertasso shows pride towards the district, stating, “We’ve got all of the right parts there to be a five star school. I’m very proud of the students and teachers who worked hard last year to achieve the rankings we did, and I know this year we will work just as hard to improve them.”

For current achievements, however, HHS had one of the highest 4-5 year graduation percentages, meaning students who began at HHS in the 9th grade graduated in either their 4th or 5th year at the school. In 2018, Highlands had an already high 97.6% graduation rate which increased to a 98.2% in 2019.

On top of that, HHS also scored very high in the Transition Readiness Indicator, which measures how well students are attaining the necessary knowledge and skills to move on to future levels of their educational careers. In 2018, HHS came in with a 82.9% in this category to an 86.8% in 2019.

College and career counselor Trinity Walsh feels, “As usual, and as I would expect, Highlands High School did very well in the accountability ranking. Even though we did not get a five star ranking, I do believe in my heart that we are a five star school. This system has shown that we have room for growth and as we always do, we will continue to make improvements to make HHS the best it can be for our students and families.”

In general, HHS scored exceedingly well on their state accountability report card. Below are a few more statistics learned through the report.

  • HHS had a 96.5% attendance rate last year. This rate actually fell by .4% from the 2017-2018 school years, likely because of exemption removal.
  • Of the 242 students tested, 68.8% met the proficient/distinguished marks in reading and 59.2% met the mark in math.
  • Of the students at HHS, 97.9% complete at least one advanced course through their time at the school.
  • In school safety, 95.5% of students did not have any behavioral events.
  • Of the 4.5% of students who did have a behavioral event, 3.6% were out of school suspensions and 1.1% of people had in-school removal.