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KDE to unroll new 5-star accountability system Tuesday

The Kentucky Department of Education's 2018-19 school and student assessment scores will be available to the public on Tuesday in the form of a new five-star accountability system.

Kentucky Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis said in a recent op-ed that the five-star system will provide families in the commonwealth with a "new and more transparent way to understand how their children's schools are performing."

The system will rate schools from one star to five, with one being the lowest possible score.

Lewis said things to consider with this new rating system are that it is meant to close achievement gaps between the groups of students, and that the release of assessment scores is an opportunity for families to see the strengths and opportunities for improvements at their child's school.

A school's star rating will not reflect how much funding that school will receive as a result of the rating, he said, addressing in the op-ed some common misconceptions.

"Nothing could be further from the truth," he said. "No funding will be withheld from a school or a district if it does not rate highly. In fact, the lowest-performing schools receive extra funding and support from (Kentucky Department of Education) to help implement research-based strategies that will increase achievement for its students."

He went on to say that he and other KDE officials are confident in the new rating system, and that is will help parents to become more involved in their child's education, "help create a healthy dialogue about how to overcome challenges and gaps, and ultimately will help us ensure each and every child is equipped for a successful future."

In a recent media briefing, Jennifer Stafford, KDE division of assessment and accountability support director, said the star scores will be based on each school's overall accountability score. A school's overall score will be based on several indicators, including student levels of proficiency, growth, transition readiness and graduation rates, as well as federal classifications and student assessments.

Elementary and middle school star ratings are based on student assessments in reading, mathematics, science, social studies and writing. Also, their growth within reading and math will also be considered, along with the progress of English-language learners.

High school star ratings are based on student assessments in reading, math, science and writing, as well as transition readiness and graduation rates.

While achievement gaps are no longer an indicator for the five-star system, they do play a significant role in a school's overall performance. If there is a significant gap between student groups, for example, economically disadvantaged students compared to non-economically disadvantaged students, the school or district's rating will be reduced by one star.

“So if the school has a four- or a five-star rating and has an achievement gap, then the school's rating will be publicly reported by one less star,” Stafford said.

Achievement gaps vary depending on student populations in schools and districts, she said. For each student group, there is a reference group that will be compared to the performance of other groups among the student population.

Another big change in assessment data is the Comprehensive Support and Improvement and the Targeted Support and Improvement schools. The CSI schools represent the bottom 5% of schools at their level or had a graduation rate below 80%. These are, according to the state, the worst-performing schools based on the new indicators for success. TSI schools have at least one student group performing as poorly as schools in the bottom 5%.

According to KDE, schools that were identified as CSI schools in fall 2018 and failed to meet the exit criteria will remain CSI schools for 2018-19. Additionally, TSI schools that have failed to exit that status after three years are now to be considered CSI schools. Also, this year's results will not identify any TSI schools; those schools are anticipated to be identified in fall 2020.

The new five-star accountability system will be live at kyschoolreportcard.com on Tuesday morning.

For more information visit education.ky.gov.

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Date: 09-27-2019

By Bobbie Hayse

The Messenger-Inquirer

Kentucky Press News Service

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