Home » Prichard: More work needed for state education accountability plan

Prichard: More work needed for state education accountability plan

LEXINGTON – The Kentucky Department of Education on Wednesday shared the next version of its proposed new public education accountability system with the Kentucky Board of Education.

The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence believes more work is needed to achieve KDE’s aspiration of “promoting a strong educational experience for all Kentucky students,” an aspiration which aligns directly with the Committee’s vision of education excellence.

Specifically, the new system begins to address important concepts of student proficiency, student growth, transition into postsecondary education and closing achievement gaps. The draft accountability system takes into consideration more aspects of learning than just test scores, with an additional focus on students access to quality educational experiences.

The new draft brings forward a performance goal of holding schools accountable for “significantly increasing student proficiency rates for all students” while reducing the state’s achievement gap by 50 percent by the year 2030. The Committee has been an active proponent of a clearly defined ambitious goal for student outcomes, specifically advocating for a goal that increases achievement for all students and closes achievement gaps with urgency.

The new accountability framework is one of the most important policies that the Commonwealth of Kentucky sets for P-12 education. The draft shared today leaves much work to do before it receives final approval by the Board if it is to be included in Kentucky’s filing of its plan for alignment with the federal government’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) on September 18.

“We are encouraged by the level of discourse regarding urgency in student achievement at today’s state Board of Education meeting,” said Prichard Committee Executive Director, Brigitte Blom Ramsey. “Much work is left to be done to integrate the conversation into a final plan, but it is doable with this level of Board commitment.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, the KBE provided important guidance regarding their vision for Kentucky’s progress and their commitment to closing achievement gaps and lifting the achievement of all students in this generation.

KDE can take that input and add it to the important contributions of the many steering committee members and citizen input from across the state to arrive at an ambitious final plan.

“We look forward to future work sessions this summer,” Ramsey said. “Today’s conversation around the state Board table, if translated into action, bodes well for future progress.”

Along with other education shareholders, the Committee anticipates participating in a state-level goal-setting process this summer to define the targets and interim benchmarks for each goal.

In addition to goal-setting at the state level, the following areas of the proposed plan warrant urgent attention:

• How goals and interim benchmarks will be set for schools and districts, how they will be set for individual student groups, and how they will be incorporated into school ratings and the school dashboard.

• How the performance of each group of students will factor into the 5-star ratings, rather than a supplementary designation.

• How the 4-year cohort graduation rate will be incorporated into school ratings.

• How schools will be identified for school intervention categories required under state (SB1-2017) and federal (ESSA) law.

• How opportunity and access measures will be used to indicate student progress and the quality of education.

Accountability and transparency for student results have long been high priorities for the Prichard Committee. We believe that the proposed system needs more work to serve four essential purposes the Committee has identified:

• Provides information about student performance to parents, policymakers and the broader public that they can act upon to make improvements.

• Creates and sustains a sense of urgency to improve student learning, including identifying schools and districts that need special support to better serve students.

• Communicates priority focus areas for statewide improvement.

• Illuminates the return on investments in Kentucky’s public education system and encourage ambitious goals for student outcomes to guide Kentucky to the top of national education rankings in the next ten years.

Over the coming months, the Prichard Committee looks forward to working with state and community leaders to ensure the final plan addresses these and other priorities – strengthening the plan and ensuring it delivers on the laudable promise offered by KDE – helping all students achieve success in school and in life.