Saturday, March 11, 2017

Accountability Changes: A Proposal from the Kentucky Department

| Post by Susan Perkins Weston |

Over recent months, the Kentucky Department of Education has coordinated a wide array of discussions about our next accountability system.  The most recent published proposal based on those discussions was shared with the Kentucky Board of Education at its February meeting. 

Here's a look at how that proposal answers the "six big questions" from my November blog post about accountability change, along with a few notes on topics for further exploration.

1. What should our rising generation know and be able to do?
The proposal does not require revisions to Kentucky’s academic standards.

2. What indicators can we use to track our progress toward those desired results?
The elementary and middle school indicators for school accountability ratings will include:
  • Proficiency on state assessments
  • Student growth data, using progress toward a student’s annual personal target for improvement
  • Achievement gap closure data by income, race, disability status, English learner status, plus a “consolidated group” based on race, disability status, and English learner status
  • Transition readiness, focused on learning about non-tested subjects, career fields, and essential skills, using measures that are under development
  • Opportunity and access measures that include arts opportunities and standards-based teaching and learning in science, social studies, health, physical education and career studies
For high schools, the indicators used for ratings will include:
  • Proficiency on state assessments
  • Achievement gap closure data
  • Transition readiness, shown by graduation rates and by academic readiness (ACT, SAT, AP, IB, or dual credit) or technical readiness (industry certification, KOSSA, dual credit) or military readiness (ASVAB)
  • Opportunity and access measures that consider advanced coursework, arts, writing, global competency/world language, practical living/career studies, and specialized career pathways
In addition to the indicators used for ratings, state reporting will include additional opportunity and access measures (discussed under Question 7).
Topics To Explore
• How will annual personal targets be set?
• When will transition readiness measures be announced?
3. How far and how fast do we intend to raise those indicators?
For students overall, the proposal calls for base goals that reflect recent history, asking for improvement that matches the statewide improvement for the highest scoring student group in 2014-16.

For student groups with lower scores, the proposal calls for additional goals that will cut achievement gaps in half by 2030. Those gaps will be defined by comparing one group to another.
Topics To Explore
• Will there be custom goals for each school?
• Will there be interim benchmarks on the way to each goal?
• If the highest scoring  group declined, how will goals be set?
4. How will we rate (or differentiate) schools each year?
For elementary and middle schools, the proposal calls for public reporting of four performance levels (low, moderate, strong very strong) for:
  • Proficiency and growth
  • Transition readiness
  • Opportunity and access
  • Achievement gap closure
For high schools, the same four levels will be use for:
  • Proficiency and transition
  • Opportunity and access
  • Achievement gap closure
Based on a matrix of all of those results, schools will also receive
  • An overall school ratings using six categories from outstanding to intervention
  • A gap closure designation or a gap issue designation
Topics to Explore
• How will standards be set for the four performance levels?
• How will citizens be included in the standard-setting?
• How will those levels relate to the state’s long-term goals?
5. How will we identify schools for added support?
The proposal calls for:
  • Tier I targeted support (early warning) for schools where one or more student groups have results like lowest 10% of schools
  • Tier II targeted support for schools where one or more student groups has results like the lowest 5% of schools
  • Intervention for schools where results are in the lowest 5% of schools, high schools where graduation rates are below 80%, and schools that have qualified for tier II targeted support for three or more years
Topics to Explore
• How many schools will qualify for targeted support?
• Will all targeted support schools get a gap issue designation?
6. What support will we provide to identified schools?
The current proposal promises an additional document to describe the kinds of support and adds that the “breadth, depth, and intensity of school support will depend in large part on the available resources.”
Topics to Explore:
• When will the support document be available?
7. How will we promote accountability for results not included in the ratings and support rules?
A major innovation in the proposal is a call to report an additional set of indicators that are not counted for the ratings.

For schools, the proposal calls for reporting on:
  • Reading and math proficiency as good or better than kindergarten readiness rates for all groups of third-grade students
  • Global competency and/or world language exposure for elementary and middle school students
  • Proportional identification rates for the Primary Talent Pool and Gifted and Talented services for all student groups
  • Proportional out-of-school suspension rates for all student groups
  • Chronic absence rate (percent of students who miss 10% or more days in a school year)
  • Teachers with appropriate certification
  • Teacher turnover rates
  • First year teachers as a share of all teachers
  • Librarian/media specialists and guidance counselors, with attention to the professional roles they play
For districts, the reporting may also include:
  • ALL STAR ratings for the state-funded preschool program
  • The percentage of of students served in half-day and full-day kindergarten programs 

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