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State testing data released


Most students perform under grade level

Kentucky School Advocate
November 2022

By Brenna R. Kelly
Staff writer

Statewide testing data released Oct. 18 by the Kentucky Department of Education showed what teachers, administrators and school board members likely already knew – the pandemic has left Kentucky students behind where they should be in school and catching them up will be a struggle.

“There’s nothing in this data that is surprising to us,” said Education Commissioner Jason Glass. “This is what I expected to see, that the disruptions to learning that occurred during the pandemic would show up in these assessment results.”

The scores, the first to include state accountability and federal designations since 2019, reflect student performance on the Kentucky Summative Assessment (KSA), previously called the Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP).

Fewer than half of students tested statewide were reading at grade level, just 45 percent reached proficient or distinguished. The scores were even worse in math, social studies, writing and science.

The highest statewide score came in editing and mechanics which saw 47 percent of students performing at or above grade level.

“It will take us a great deal of time and energy, that’s already happening in schools, to recover from this,” Glass said.

Kentucky’s disappointing results are consistent with what other states are experiencing, he said.

Gov. Andy Beshear said he understood what parents went through as their children were educated from home during the pandemic.“As governor, and as the parent of public school students, I am committed to ensuring we do everything possible to help every child reach their full potential and to rebound from what history shows us occurs as the result of difficult and deadly times of pandemic or war,” Beshear said.

Kentucky has received more than $2 billion in federal funding through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act to help accelerate learning and support districts and the students who need it the most.

House Speaker David Osborne said the Kentucky General Assembly has provided more than $4.5 billion for K-12 public education in each fiscal year of the current budget. He also noted schools should focus on services, while the legislature will continue to enact policies that give parents more options.

“As we move forward, we must focus on delivering the services necessary to avoid a lost generation of children denied a chance to reach their potential,” he said. “However, all the money in the world won't help without the right policies. We look forward to continuing to work with parents, educators, and other stakeholders to ensure those policies are in place, as well as providing additional learning opportunities for students from all socioeconomic backgrounds."

Glass told superintendents on the day the data was released that he expected a period of “blame and shame” from some people but urged them not to let the negativity impact their work.

“I would just encourage everybody to calm down, take a breath and get back to work,” he said. “This data represents a new baseline. We know we’ve got lots of work ahead of us. And so let’s get to it.”

This was the first year of the state’s new accountability system which now uses a color-coded rating to designate student performance at the school and district level ranging from red (the lowest) to blue (the highest). Overall, 7.7% of Kentucky schools were blue and 5% were red. The rest fell into the orange, yellow or green categories.

The red schools, the bottom 5%, or those with a graduation rate under 80%, received the federally required designation of Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) schools. This year there were 51 CSI schools in 13 districts.

Under state law, after the CSI school undergoes a KDE audit, school boards with one or more CSI schools, must decide whether to use KDE, or one of two outside vendors as the school’s turnaround team.

A bright spot in the data was Kentucky students’ performance on the ACT. Results for students who were juniors during the 2021-22 school year show an increase in composite scores and in English, reading and science over the 2020-21 school year. Mathematics scores tied the 2020-21 year.

However, the 2021-22 ACT scores did not rebound to 2019-20 school year levels.

Glass said the ACT results show the recovery has already begun.

“We know that there’s lots of energy going into this recovery from pandemic disruptions right now,” he said. “And there’s lots of federal money available to support that, so we should expect to see continued recovery and improvement happening with our schools as time goes on.”

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