The district ranked among the top 5 percent of schools from across the state according to a measuring stick implemented last year. It marks the second consecutive time the district has earned a distinguished ranking, placing it at the top of the state’s benchmark for progressing students.
On Friday, as the state’s results were released to the public, superintendent Quin Sutton said Lyon prides itself on placing students first.
“The foundation of everything is developing those relationships with the kids,”Sutton said. “They know that their cared for, that we love them, that we want the best for them as a person and not just as a test score. Once you’ve built those foundational relationships, only good things can come from that. That starts with the bus driver when they pick them up in the morning, to the cafeteria workers when they feed them breakfast to the secretaries and how they greet kids and parents, to the custodians and how well our buildings are maintained, to the teachers in the classroom, and to our administration who give support to all these parts of our school system.”
Sutton said it was also important for teachers to consistently teach standards every day. Those two elements allow the district to consistently perform at a high level, Sutton said.
Sutton said the district’s size — the smallest of the five most western Kentucky district’s receiving a distinguished rating — provided both benefits and hurdles. Marshall, McCracken, Calloway and Murray also earned distinguished ratings.
“It’s easy to look at us and say we’re small, and it’s easy to develop those relationships,” Sutton said. “I think that’s true. But if you look at all the districts in this end of the state, outside of Murray Independent, they’re all very large. I think it goes back to the culture of the district and what we all believe in.”
Diane Still, Supervisor for Instruction, said the district’s score improved enough over last year to move them up two spots in state ranking. Lyon County Schools scored a 65.8, which, according to state measurements, ranked 13th out of the state’s 174 districts. Out of a western Kentucky co-op of 25 schools districts spanning from Fulton to McLean counties, Lyon ranked third and was first in its region.
Both the elementary and middle schools reported growth since last year’s measurement, with Lyon County Elementary School improving from a 62.1 to a 69.1, earning the second highest score in the region and 82nd out of 729 elementary schools across the state. Lyon County Middle School — despite being displaced by construction — ranked 18th out of 331 districts across the state for its second distinguished review, placing it in the top 6 percent of schools.
“[The elementary school] made wonderful gain,” Still said. “Their gap score really increased. They made a huge gain in that and some gain in achievement and some gain in growth. But that gap really pulled them up.”
According to state measurements, gap students are considered those on free and reduced lunch, suffering from a learning disability or who are classified as a minority. The state compares scores from gap students against peer scores to judge adequate progress. Lyon County Elementary School improved its gap score by 3.1 percent, while improving achievement and growth scores by about 2 percent each. Still said the work by LCES staff and faculty moved the school from a needs improvement ranking last year to less than one point short of distinguished, the state’s highest ranking.
LCES finished among the top 12 percent of schools from across Kentucky. Still said the school has brought in additional staff to work with students in the third, fourth and fifth grades identified as needing an extra push.
Like Sutton, Still attributed the district’s success to focusing on traditional teaching principles and creating a student-oriented environment.
“We’re not all about the latest greatest program, we don’t jump on every band wagon that comes along,” Still said. “We believe in relationships.”
Still said the district continues to work on its college and career readiness. Currently Lyon County High School offers 10 different dual credit courses, allowing for a possibility of 35 credits for graduating seniors. The district is working to add additional dual credit courses in the near future.
“I truly believe the majority of our parents understand the importance of a good education and they want their children to do well,” Sutton said. “When they teach that at home, their children automatically come to school wanting to learn and better themselves. It’s a total team effort. There’s a lot of pride in this community when we talk about Lyon County Schools. It’s the focal point of the community in my mind, and we always want to make our community proud.”