New school report cards focus on the "big picture," KDE spokeswoman says; new accountability system will be implemented in two years

The Kentucky Enquirer, Fort Mitchell, Sept. 28, 2017

Kentucky releases school report cards
Hannah Sparling

If you’re a Kentucky mom or dad hoping to crack open this year’s report card to see how your school stacks up, you’re going to be disappointed.

It’s not that your school is doing poorly – that may or may not be the case. It’s that it’s getting harder and harder to tell.

Kentucky is switching accountability systems, so this year’s report card looks different. There are no state rankings or overall scores – the numbers that used to rank schools from best to worst.

There are no labels marking schools as Distinguished, Proficient or Needs Improvement.

So, what are parents supposed to look at?

State education officials hope they will dive into the report cards and dig into the data: How well is my school doing in third-grade reading, for example, or eighth-grade math?

“I think there’s a little bit of angst about, ‘How do I tell if my school is doing well?’” said Rebecca Blessing, communications director for the Kentucky Department of Education. “We’re saying, we don’t really want you to compare schools. Schools should stand on their own, and you look at the big picture.”

To look up your school’s report card, go online to the KDE website. A few broad-brush highlights:

  • Students at Beechwood Independent Schools had some of the highest ACT scores in the state, with an average score of 25.3. The state average is 19.8.
  • The statewide graduation rate is up for the second year in a row. However, at 89.8 percent, it still falls short of the 90.7 percent goal the state set for itself. Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt said the state will be looking at its requirements for graduation to determine if a diploma is truly ensuring students are prepared for what comes next.
  • Kentucky’s college and career readiness score dropped, from 68.5 percent this past year to 65.1 percent this year. The goal was 73.5 percent.
  • “Math is a mess.” Statewide on the end-of-course test for Algebra II, only 38 percent of students scored proficient or distinguished. “What’s going on with math?” Pruitt said during a pre-release conference with reporters. “Math is a mess across the state and across the country, so what are we going to do differently with math going forward?”
Kentucky's report cards will keep shifting. In two years, there will be a new rating system, with schools and districts earning one to five stars.

This year, though, parents might find the reports more overwhelming than informative, said Jay Brewer, Dayton Independent Schools Superintendent. He suggests parents spend a little less time with the report card this year and a little more time talking with their children's teachers.

"People like to compare schools, and at this point, there really isn't that information available," Brewer said. "On the parent end, I think they may find (the report card) lacking. But that's all part of what happens when you move from one system to the next."

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