Wednesday, June 14, 2017

ESSA, SB 1, and Kentucky's Draft Accountability Regulation

| Post By Susan Perkins Weston |

On June 7, the Kentucky Board of Education held a first reading of a new accountability system regulation intended to encourage rising student performance and to meet the requirement of two new laws. I'm planning a set of posts on the main elements of the draft regulation, but first, here comes a quick look at the two bills that shape how the regulation will work.

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act replaces the older No Child Left Behind Act. Signed in December 2015, ESSA changes the rules for how states qualify for Title I funding. States must still set academic standards, create assessments of those standards, and have ambitious goals for raising results on those assessments and graduation rates, along with interim measures of progress toward meeting those goals. The goals must still apply separately for low income students, students with disabilities, and students of color, and states must still plan steps to get the schools with the weakest result back on track. However, ESSA allows states considerably more flexibility in using additional measures of school quality and student success, in choosing their goals and their timelines for achieve goals, and in planning out support for schools with weak results.

ESSA is one reason Kentucky needs a new accountability regulation: it will show our choices about how to use the new federal flexibility.

Senate Bill 1, enacted this year, fills in some of those details. It sets a process for revising our academic standards and calls for matching changes to how we test those standards. It adds new ways to measure college readiness and career readiness, including giving added weight to career tests in fields that are in high demand in each region. It defines three new categories of schools in need of support and new approaches to providing that help, filling in some of the ESSA blanks. Notably, where ESSA requires comprehensive support for schools with graduation rates below 67%, SB 1 commits Kentucky to provide that support anywhere graduations are below 80%.

SB 1 is another reason we need a new accountability regulation: we need to fill in how the changed measures will be used to set goals, rate schools, analyze achievement gaps, and decide which schools qualify for the new support methods.

So, in the posts that follow, I’ll look at the June 7 draft of the regulation, and I’ll also share a few more specific details from ESSA and SB 1 at the points where they matter.

One more thing: I should underline that word draft. During the KBE discussion, the Department recommended additional changes and took input from Board members on upcoming improvements. A revised version of the draft regulation is scheduled to get its second reading at the August 2-3 state board meeting, to be followed by a board vote, a public comment period and reviews by legislative committees. You can see the Department's "Data and Measures" document shared with the Board (including a set of proposed further changes) here, and find a more recent PowerPoint about KDE’s recommendations here. For the draft regulation itself, go to the state board's June 7 agenda and scroll down to item XXI.

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