(TNS) -- Daviess County Public Schools will create The Great Expectations Institute: An Early College Academy in 2016 to allow students to earn an associate's degree at the same time they earn their high school diploma.

Owensboro Public Schools is investigating the possibility of creating a "career-preparatory academy" — similar to the Owensboro Innovation Academy — for middle school students.

Those are both included in the Comprehensive District Improvement Plans both school boards approved recently.

Nick Brake, superintendent of city schools, said that school system hopes to know soon if the career-preparatory academy plan will work.

Amanda Jerome, College & Career Readiness Coordinator for county schools, said the Great Expectations Institute is on track to begin in August 2016.

Within a few years, she said, it should have 100 students each from Apollo and Daviess County high schools.

Classes will primarily be on the Owensboro Community & Technical College campus, Jerome said.

But some will be at the high schools.

Students in the institute will be able to earn an associate's degree at the same time they receive their high school diplomas.

Owensboro schools have a similar program — the Early College Academy — which began in 2014.

Most of the comprehensive plans deal with increasing the percentage of students that are meeting and surpassing state goals.

Daviess County

"We put a big emphasis on professional learning," said Julie Clark, the county's assistant superintendent for teaching and learning.

The plan calls for increasing the percentage of students scoring at least proficient in grades three through eight from 64.1 percent to 68.1 percent; increasing the percentage scoring at least proficient in math from 52.1 percent to 59.4 percent; and increasing the percentage of students in the 50th percentile in reading from 72 percent to 80 percent and from 71 percent to 80 percent in math.

It also calls for increasing the district's high school graduation rate from 93.5 percent to 94.6 percent and creating an all-day academic program for 11th-graders at Heritage Park High School.

And it plans to identify students performing at below grade level and get them more help.

County schools want to redesign their English Language Learner service for students who don't speak English well by ensuring that "struggling students have access to the highest quality teachers."

Superintendent Owens Saylor said county schools have almost 500 ELL students now and the number is growing.


"We are required to submit our comprehensive district improvement plan to the state each year," Brake said. "We try to align it with our overall district strategy. It's a building process. We focus on literacy and math. We want to have them reading at close to grade level by the time they finish elementary school and have high-level math competency by the eighth grade."

In high school, he said, "We focus on college and career readiness. We're looking at a comprehensive approach to literacy and hitting benchmarks."

The city's plan calls for increasing the average combined reading and math scores for elementary and middle school students from 50 percent to 70 percent by 2019; increasing the percentage of students deemed college and career ready to meet or exceed state standards; and decreasing the number of students performing at the novice level — the lowest level — by 50 percent by 2020.

The plan also calls for increasing the combined proficiency rate for reading and math at the elementary level from 51.5 percent to 53.3 percent and at the middle school level from 48.3 percent to 52.8 percent.

It says a typical classroom should focus on a problem-solving model with the teacher "as a facilitator and guide rather than a dispenser of information."

The plan says that 80 percent of the city's students are "gap students" — African-American, Hispanic, students with limited English or economically disadvantaged.

So, teachers will continue to receive training in dealing with poverty and helping students with diverse backgrounds.

The district plans to work with schools on purchasing hand-held or desktop technology to help gap students.

The plan calls for operating a summer literacy camp for at least 75 gap elementary and middle school students.

And it wants to see the city's high school graduation rate increased from 85.7 percent to 91.1 percent.

©2015 the Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Ky.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.