Schools and districts would receive an overall rating of one to five stars based on school performance under a new accountability system that the Kentucky Board of Education approved Wednesday. Kentucky currently rates schools and districts with labels that include “needs improvement,” “proficient” and “distinguished.”
Schools and districts would be judged on measures that include student proficiency, whether school performance showed growth, whether schools were closing the achievement gap, whether schools give students equal access to school programs, whether students were ready to transition to the next level, and high school graduation rates.
If approved by the U.S. Department of Education, the system would be used for the 2018-19 school year. 2017-18 would be a transitional year between the current system and the new system. Under the education reform law, schools and districts will not receive in fall 2017 an overall accountability score or the category labels.
Instead of an overall score and a label, the education department would release “report cards” this fall, with test scores, data on the achievement gap, whether students saw academic growth, college and career readiness information, and graduation rate. If schools submitted scores for program reviews, which are self-assessments of whether schools are offering rigorous programs, those also would be included.
Student reports that go home on individual performance won’t change. Kids will get rated as novice, proficient or distinguished on their individual tests.
The proposed system is designed to promote and hold schools and districts accountable for student achievement and to reduce achievement gaps between poor, disabled and minority students and others.
“We have developed an accountability system that goes beyond test scores and moves away from a compliance mentality to encourage continuous improvement for all our students,” Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt said in a statement released Wednesday night.
The system has been under development for the past year.
“One of the things that gives me confidence that this has a chance to work is that there is a lot of buy-in up front, because people felt like they had the chance to provide meaningful input,” board member Roger Marcum said. “Nobody probably got everything they wanted, but for something this comprehensive, that’s not going to happen. But I am extremely pleased with the process.”
The board also revised long-term goals for improving student proficiency and closing gaps for all students over the next generation that officials said were more ambitious. Board members said such success would be based on providing schools and students with adequate resources and support.
“We can espouse to do as many great things as we want,” board member Ben Cundiff said, “but until we change the mindset of the average taxpayer that it’s worth paying more taxes to support education, we’re never going to get where we want to with all of our students.”
Officials from the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence said that meeting aggressive goals for academic achievement will require more support for schools.
“Big shifts in teaching and learning at the local level and increased community commitment will be necessary to narrow gaps and provide opportunities for ... all learners,” Prichard Committee communications director Michael Andrews said.