Less than half of Jefferson County Public Schools’ elementary students read at grade level in the 2013-14 state test results released Friday—but elementary reading is still an area of stark improvement from prior years.

And, because it’s an improvement, Superintendent Donna Hargens said JCPS will continue what it’s doing to improve student reading scores.

JCPS schools have a range of approaches to address reading proficiency. For example, some of the lower performing schools require extra time dedicated with peers or instructors to read. The district will also include attempts to recruit more volunteers for the Every1Reads program, said Hargens.

JCPS made gains overall—it moved from the 36th to the 51st percentile—but Kentucky’s largest school district still lags behind the state average in reading proficiency.

Forty-nine percent of JCPS elementary school students are proficient or better at reading. Last year, 42 percent were in that category.

Related: Searchable database of Kentucky school test results

That rate is still not good enough to meet Kentucky Department of Education’s annual goal of 53.9 percent proficiency for elementary school students in JCPS, which increases each year to push all students toward grade level reading.

Hargens said that’s an “ambitious” goal.

“The plan is to do exactly what we’re doing because we’re seeing improvements,” she said.

JCPS lags slightly behind the state in reading proficiency.

  • JCPS elementary schools 49 percent; Kentucky 53.7 percent
  • JCPS middle schools 45.3; Kentucky 53.2
  • JCPS High schools 50.9; Kentucky 55.4

JCPS middle schools have the largest gaps with the state average; its high schools are the only grade group whose scores fell slightly from the previous year. 

Students labeled “limited English proficiently”—which may include students whose home language is not English and disabled students—have the largest gaps between their scores and their goals.