The Richmond Register

Education

November 2, 2012

A guide to the new school test scores

RICHMOND — Test scores for the state’s new assessment and accountability system, Unbridled Learning, look drastically different than years’ past, said Randy Peffer, Madison County Schools chief academic officer.

Not only are there changes in scorekeeping methods, but also in the range of scores possible. For example, in the past, schools could score between zero and 140. Now, schools may score between zero and 100.

“Scores that used to be in the 100s, are now going to be in the 50s and 60s — not because of any decrease in achievement, it's just a different way they've kept score,” he said.

There were changes in the state’s standards of proficiency as well.

“In the past, there was a high percentage of students reaching proficiency on the state assessment, but when they took the EXPLORE, PLAN and ACT (nationwide tests), the percentage of kids reaching proficiency was no where close to the number of kids who were meeting the benchmark,” Peffer said. “There was an over-inflation of students meeting proficiency.”

The new Kentucky standards adopted last year has risen the bar for students to meet proficiency, he said, therefore the number of students meeting proficiency will drop.

After a final score is tallied for each school, it is ranked state-wide from highest to lowest, so that each fall into a percentile.

Schools in the 90th percentile and above are labelled “distinguished;” 70th to 89th percentile are “proficient;” and anything below 70th “needs improvement.”

“This is something that the public really needs to know about … We could be doing 69 percent better than all the other schools in the state, but still need improvement (based on the outcome of the year),” county school board member Chris Hager said at the Oct. 11 meeting. “You can have every school in the state do 400 percent better than last year and still have 70 percent of them ‘need improvement.’”

In February, the U.S. Department of Education granted Kentucky flexibility under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, according to a press release from the Kentucky Department of Education. This flexibility allows the state to use the Unbridled Learning model to report both state- and federal-level accountability measures.

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