Education

Judge your schools. New Kentucky academic scores, ratings coming next week.

Kentucky’s statewide school test scores for the 2018-2019 school year are scheduled to be released to the public on Oct. 1, Kentucky Department of Education officials said Monday.

For the first time, the state’s public schools will be rated with one to five stars, with five being the highest performing.

Schools that would have received four or five stars for their performances may lose a star if there are achievement gaps between minority, poor or disabled students and their peers, officials say.

But one-to-three star schools won’t lose a star for achievement gaps.

As happened last year, the lowest-performing 5 percent of all schools by level — elementary, middle and high — will be called Comprehensive Support and Improvement Schools, a federal label. They will be measured by students’ performances on state tests and other criteria.

The superintendent of a school district will take over those schools, and they will be audited by a team of professionals. Fayette County had seven such schools last year.

Last year, 418 schools in Kentucky, were labeled as targeted support and improvement schools, or TSI, because of achievement gaps. In those schools, one or more subgroups of students were performing as poorly as all students in any of the lowest performing 5 percent of schools by level.

This year, the state education department will not identify any of those schools. The state said it had to do that to get federal government approval of its accountability plan. The department anticipates identifying the first group of schools with one or more subgroups of students performing poorly in the fall of 2020.

Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis told superintendents earlier this month that the state plan would not receive federal approval if targeted support school identification continued to follow the guidelines established in a new state law.

As written, he said, Senate Bill 175 approved in 2019 had the potential to exclude 90 percent of schools with an underperforming student group from being identified for targeted improvement or TSI school. The federal education department determined that did not align with the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Failing to have an approved state plan puts federal funding that Kentucky school districts receive in jeopardy, “which is a cost far too high for KDE to risk,” Lewis told superintendents in a recent email. The state will have one year to work with lawmakers to get a definition that the federal government will approve.

“I’m grateful for their willingness to give us an additional year,” he told the Herald-Leader.

In spite of that, a new federal label will be introduced in the coming results. It’s called Additional Targeted Support and Improvement or ATSI, and a few schools in the state will get that label if they didn’t improve from fall 2018.

No additional schools will be identified as additional targeted support schools this year solely as a result of their performance in 2018-2019. New additional target support schools will be identified in 2021.

“Kentucky’s new school accountability system is a giant leap forward for our public education system,” Lewis said Monday in a statement.

“It provides an unprecedented degree of transparency for stakeholders, recognizes schools’ progress on a diverse set of indicators, gives significant weight to students’ academic progress and their readiness for college and careers, and gives greater visibility and weight to achievement gap closure than ever before,” Lewis said.

“This system has a greater emphasis on the achievement gap than any system Kentucky has ever had before,” he said.

Kentucky’s new 5-star accountability system can be viewed Oct. 1 at kyschoolreportcard.com.

The individual reports for each school or district will show how many stars schools have and federal “grades, ” performance on additioal academic and other indicators (from very low to very high), and any significant achievement gaps within the school or district.

The new system does not rely solely on students’ proficiency on state standardized examinations. Instead the following indicators factor into a school’s overall five-star rating, state officials said.

· Reading and math proficiency

· Proficiency in social studies, science and writing

· Student’s academic growth/progress over one academic year

· Transitional readiness (historically known as college and career readiness)

· Graduation rate

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