Eminence designated as a ‘Diamond in the Rough’ by Bluegrass Institute

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By Brad Bowman

Eminence Independent Schools has been recognized as a ‘diamond in the rough’ by a recent study.

The Bluegrass Institute, a nonprofit organization, conducted a study to find out which school districts delivered the most educational bang for the taxpayer’s buck.

The report derived a score spending index (SSI), a numerical value based on school achievement test scores weighed against per pupil spending in 2011.

The SSI calculation starts with the school district’s average composite score from the ACT.

For districts with several high schools an average is taken or for those districts without a high school the district’s average EXPLORE (pre-ACT test for students) score is used to ascertain a numerator. The Bluegrass Institute used the per pupil spending in the district and divided it by overall average of per pupil spending for all districts of the same grade configuration for a denominator.

A district with a positive SSI performs above the statewide average, according to the study, and delivers education to its students while maximizing tax dollars. The admitted deficiency of the study is that it is possible for a district to receive a positive SSI even though the district’s test scores may fall below the state average.

The institute also wanted to recognize ‘Diamond in the Rough’ districts who, despite having large poverty rates with a reduced lunch rate of at least 56 percent, had an above state average high school graduation rate. These districts, according to the study, embodied the Bluegrass Institute’s position that spending more doesn’t necessarily produce more and that future education funding most likely will not increase.

The common thread of success amongst the school districts boiled down to successful relationships according to Bluegrass Institute’s staff education analyst Richard G. Innes.

“Poverty cannot be an excuse in preparing students for their future,” Innes said. “We think it is notable that these districts are out performing schools who receive more money than other districts. ”

The districts awarded as ‘Diamonds in the Rough’ included Graves, La Rue, and Mason County schools and Eminence Independent.

Eminence’s total expenses per pupil from the study in 2011 totaled $9,868 with 67 percent of students on free and reduced cost lunch. Among the four districts, Eminence had the highest average ACT average composite score at 20.9 with a 100 percent freshman graduation rate for students in 2010.

Innes used Eminence’s student participation in some of the district’s professional development sessions as a valuable feedback tool example. Innes commended Eminence Superintendent Buddy Berry for personally conducting and sharing online professional development sessions via You Tube, which allows other districts benefit from their sessions.

“It is extremely humbling and rewarding,” Berry said. “Excellence in education and efficiency go hand in hand. I saw this (award) as a tribute to Eminence schools and how it runs as an efficient organization. We maximize the education of our students by maximizing our resources.”

Bluegrass Institute describes itself as a, “… free-market think tank dedicated to arming Kentucky’s freedom fighter with the information they need to defend their individual liberties.”

Jim Waters, President of the Bluegrass Institute affirmed the organization’s position.

“We believe in limited government, transparent government and capitalism ideas,” Waters said. “We are a nonpartisan think tank, much more interested in the policy than the politics. Our goal is to promote sound policy.”

For more information about the report or the Bluegrass Institute visit: www.freedomkentucky.orgor www.bipps.org