Kentucky’s school rating system is criticized as not strong enough

Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt.
Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt. File photo

The latest draft of Kentucky’s proposed statewide system of evaluating schools — the new accountability system — is not strong enough.

That’s the message that business, civil rights, community and education advocacy groups have sent in a letter to Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt and the Kentucky Board of Education.

The letter, sent last week, said after the organizations’ leaders saw the latest draft, “We believe it can and should be strengthened.”

Signing the joint letter were leaders of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the Kentucky State Conference of NAACP branches, the Louisville Urban League, the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence and Teach for America — Appalachia.

The groups called for a clearer focus on closing persistent achievement gaps for children of color, and those who are poor or disabled.

Parents in Kentucky pay close attention to the state’s accountability system. In some Kentucky cities, such as Lexington, a school’s rating can drive the real estate market when people want to live in an attendance zone where a school has a high rating.

Cory Curl, associate executive director of the Prichard Committee, said the new system needs to be designed to help the state meet specific, ambitious but reasonable goals for improving the performance of all students, particularly those who are further behind.

One goal would be to cut the achievement gap in half in the next 10 years, she said.

Kentucky Department of Education spokeswoman Nancy Rodriguez said department officials and the Kentucky Board of Education are reviewing the letter “as they continue to fine tune the new accountability plan.”

Kentucky’s new accountability system is expected to be in place by the 2018-19 school year.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears