Next Generation Learners
Next year, Unbridled Learning will include program reviews on a school’s course-offerings in subjects such as practical living, arts and humanities and creative writing. The following year, the assessment will look at teacher and principal effectiveness.
However, this year, only the first phase of Unbridled Learning was introduced — Next Generation Learners.
There are five components to Next Generation Learners from which a school is assessed: Achievement, Gap, Growth, College/Career Readiness and Graduation Rates.
Elementary scores are based on the first three components, middle school scores are based on the first four and high school scores are calculated using all five components.
“Achievement” is determined by how students perform on K-PREP tests (Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress), administered during the last 14 instructional days of the school year.
The schools are given zero points for a “novice” score, a half a point for an “apprentice” score and a full point for a “proficient” or “distinguished” score.
In the past, a school’s overall score was only determined by the results of these tests, formerly known as the KCCT (Kentucky Core Content Test).
The “gap” component is measured by how many students achieve “proficient” or “distinguished” and are either a minority, receive free or reduced lunch, received special education or are English Language Learners (students who have not mastered the English language because they are new to the country), Peffer said.
Kentucky’s goal is 100 percent proficiency for all students, he said. Therefore the “gap” is the difference between that goal and the actual score from the “gap group.”
Growth is defined as students who meet typical or higher gains on the assessment based upon their “academic peers” from one year to the next, Peffer said. Growth is measured only in reading and mathematics.
“That's measuring how well we as a school are helping kids grow academically, based upon where they started and where they need to go,” he said. “We’ve never looked at growth like this before.”
An “academic peer” is not just defined as “students who are in the same grade level,” he said. Academic peers are students who are compared to the others across the state who scored at the same level.
Schools are given points for students who achieve typical or higher growth. That means, students who are already performing at a high level will not necessarily score points for their school if they do not achieve growth from the previous year. Whereas, a student who earns low scores but has achieved typical or higher growth from the following year, will gain points for the school.
In the past, a student could never score more than “distinguished,” therefore assessments did not focus on the growth of every student, especially those who already scored at a high level, Peffer said.
Elementary and middle school growth is calculated using K-PREP. High school growth is calculated using PLAN and ACT, which are part of a series of tests explained in the next component.