Members of the Harlan County Board of Education received their first detailed report on the state’s recently released student test scores during their recent monthly meeting.
Known as K-PREP — short for Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress – public schools completed the new assessment and accountability tests last year and the results were released to the public in early November.
Testing covered five content areas: reading, mathematics, science, social studies and writing. At the high school level, four end-of-course exams are included for algebra, English, biology and social studies.
Brent Roark, assistant superintendent for instruction, told board members once they adjust to new terminology being used to describe the testing system, the biggest area of concern for the district should be the designation of “gap” scores, which were low.
While individual schools differed, reading and math scores were also low in general across the district. One of the consequences of the new testing model is that most scores appear lower than generally expected because the standards are set significantly higher, Roark noted.
All data for the assessment and accountability system are posted to the new School Report Card, which is available for the public on the Kentucky Department of Education’s website. Roark demonstrated the website tools for the board.
Despite the many differences in comparing this system to the prior testing model, Roark noted some similarities. Students will still receive reports that place their performance in each content area into the categories of novice, apprentice, proficient and distinguished.
The new model includes student achievement growth measures, an emphasis on college and career readiness, high school graduation rates, student achievement in the content areas and increased focus on the lowest-performing schools.
Under the new system, schools and districts are held accountable for improving student performance and are rated by three performance classifications that determine consequences: needs improvement, proficient and distinguished.
How schools and districts are classified depends upon five measures: student achievement on the content areas of the tests; the gap that exists in scores among identified groups for all five content areas; the growth in reading and math; the college readiness as measured by benchmarks such as EXPLORE, ACT, college placement tests, or career measures in high school; and graduation rate.
Because of the complexity of the new system and because of the new accountability measures that are being put in place, Roark said he has spent the weeks since the test results were released visiting the schools to ensure that every principal and teacher understand the new system, how it impacts the district’s decisions, how it affects classroom instruction and how it changes expectations for students.