The Richmond Register

Local News

September 27, 2013

A guide to Kentucky’s new accountability system

School/district report cards to be released Friday

RICHMOND — Second-year data for Kentucky’s new school accountability system, Unbridled Learning, will be released Friday for all state schools.

Last year, the new accountability model brought many changes to the way schools are assessed.

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.

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 ― there was an over-inflation of students meeting proficiency,” said Randy Peffer, who served as Madison County Schools’ chief academic officer from 2008 until last year, when he moved on to a position at the Kentucky Department of Education.

The new Kentucky standards in reading and math adopted in 2010 has risen the bar for students to meet proficiency, he said, therefore the number of students meeting proficiency was expected to 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.”

In February 2012, the U.S. Department of Education granted Kentucky flexibility under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, according to a press release from the KDE. This flexibility allows the state to use the Unbridled Learning model to report both state- and federal-level accountability measures.

New ‘progressing’ distinction

This year, the label “progressing” can now be tagged onto labels of “distinguished,” “proficient,” or “needs improvement” for some schools.

This distinction means the school increased its score by a certain number of points to meet or exceed its annual measurable objective, or AMO. 

The school’s/district’s overall score will be used to calculate AMOs, which is number of points it must gain each year for the next five years to achieve proficiency. This is similar to the adequate yearly progress, or AYP measurement used in No Child Left Behind.

Under NCLB, a school’s AYP was used to determine whether schools were doing well. If a school made AYP, it was not subject to consequences, according to KDE.

In Kentucky’s new system, the term “AYP” was eliminated and now schools must achieve AMO.

Because 2011-12 was the first year using the new standards and accountability system, last year’s data was baseline and every school and district was given an AMO of 1 to exceed this year, said David Gilliam, Madison County Schools’ new chief academic officer.

From here on, however, every school labeled proficient and above will continue to have just an AMO of 1, he said.

Preliminary data from KDE indicates that several Madison County Schools increased their school score by at at least one point and achieved AMO, which gives them the distinction of “progressing.”

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