Kentucky education chief appoints task force to improve school self-evaluations


Kentucky’s new education commissioner, Stephen Pruitt, has appointed a task force to recommend changes in how schools rate themselves.

Last summer, the state education department found that schools were scoring themselves too highly in self-evaluations.

Pruitt said Thursday that the task force will recommend improvements to the self-evaluations, called program reviews.

In Kentucky, 23 percent of a school’s and a district’s overall accountability score comes from a school’s self-evaluation of how well it is teaching subjects, such as arts and humanities and writing, that don’t lend themselves to paper-and-pencil tests. The self-evaluations are state-mandated.

The concern is that if schools are inflating the scores, the overall rankings are inaccurate, and schools don’t get the improvements they need.

Some critics have said the program reviews are biased and should be scrapped, but because they are required by law, that isn’t an option, Pruitt said in a news release.

“In the short time I’ve been in Kentucky, one of the things I’ve heard about repeatedly has been concern over program reviews,” he said.

The task force includes school officials from across the state.

“This task force brings shareholders to the table as a first step in addressing those concerns and making program reviews a more effective tool that will benefit the children in our classrooms,” Pruitt said. “However, I will not make changes without careful consideration of information and evidence.”

The Kentucky Department of Education found the inflated scores after auditing eight schools.

No schools were audited in Fayette County, but district officials have said that some test scores improved in 2014-15 after school officials gave themselves the full 23 points possible on program reviews.

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