A revised accountability system for Kentucky public schools under the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act probably would not lend itself to rankings and would be more “fair, reliable, easier to understand and more meaningful for kids,” Kentucky Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt said.
Pruitt wants a new system that does not rely on rankings of schools and districts as is now the case.
“If we don’t come out with an accountability system focused on students, then we’ve failed. It can’t be about adults chasing points. The system needs to promote what’s best for students,” he said.
The new federal act requires the system to be in place by the 2017-18 school year.
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Currently, “we have a single number that indicates how schools are performing,” Pruitt said. He said he favors a system that provides a broader view or a “dashboard” approach.
But the federal law still requires that schools that are struggling be identified.
The Kentucky Department of Education is holding town hall meetings across the state, including one in early April in Lexington, to gather public input on what educators, parents and others would like to see in the system.
At the Lexington meeting, as at other town halls, Pruitt said people told him “they want a simpler system” and one that is fair. An estimated 250 people attended the meeting in Lexington.
One retired teacher said Kentucky needs an accountability system that eliminates the need to chase points on the statewide tests.
People who don’t attend one of the meetings may express their views through an email sent to KyEdListens@education.ky.gov.
“This isn’t an attempt to throw the baby out with the bath water, but to develop a system that is truly reflective of Kentucky values,” Pruitt said.
At a Kentucky Board of Education meeting Wednesday in Frankfort, board members discussed that Kentucky does not allow students to opt out of testing. Some board members said they did not think that annual testing should take up more than five days of instructional time.
The commissioner said he soon would name a steering committee, which represents all groups of stakeholders, including state legislators, to incorporate the public feedback and requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act in developing Kentucky’s new accountability system. Pruitt said he also would name a committee that would anticipate and try to head off any unintended consequences from the proposed system.