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Accountability system changes

Changes to accountability system coming

Kentucky School Advocate
January 2019

By Brenna R. Kelly
Staff writer

At its Dec. 5 meeting, the Kentucky Board of Education voted to change several components of the state’s regulation governing the accountability system. 

“These are simplifications of the system and improvements,” said Rhonda Sims, associate commissioner for KDE’s Office of Standards, Assessment and Accountability. 

The Local Superintendents Advisory Committee also approved the recommended changes.

The changes include transition readiness, growth, gap closure, and opportunity and access. For transition readiness in high school, the board voted to change the indicator to allow a C grade to qualify instead of the current B grade. The grade was lowered because a C is acceptable for credits to transfer between postsecondary institutions.

For elementary and middle school, the transition readiness indicator will be eliminated from the accountability system. Sims said that because it used the composite score of all subject areas, transition readiness at elementary and middle school was a redundancy in the system.

Another change is the gap closure indicator. Instead of using all subject areas, gap closure will be measured by a composite of reading and mathematics.

The board also voted to change the way growth is calculated under the accountability system. The new calculation will use student’s previous year performance to compare to current performance. It will also eliminate using projections of student performance in the calculation.

The board also removed opportunity and access as an indicator, replacing it with “quality of school climate and safety.”

“When we went back to our regulation and the core of the accountability system, we found that the opportunity and access measure went beyond the minimum requirement in Senate Bill 2017,” said Jennifer Stafford, KDE policy adviser. 

That bill uses the phrase quality of school climate and safety, she said.

“We are continuing to look into these measures and metrics that will fulfill this indicator and this requirement,” she said. 

KDE will remove opportunity and access and all its measures, including rich curricula, equitable access and school quality and student success from the system. The department had yet to determine how those would be measured.

“Our concern was that we could never get to the quality, it was always accounting minutes and time,” Sims said. 

The department plans to bring recommendations to the board in February about how to measure quality of school climate and safety. Sims said they will look at what data is already being collected that could fit for the measurement.

“We’ve got so many important intensive things for schools to work on, we don’t want to add data collection to something that’s maybe just a process,” she said. 

Sims said the department expects concerns from arts educators about the changes because it was the only part of the accountability system that measured arts education.

“There’s always the concern that if something’s not in the accountability system, will people pay attention to it?” she said. 

The department will accept public comments on the changes in January and the board will take a final vote on the changes at its February meeting.
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