The means of measuring school accountability has been a moving target for several years. Just as districts, parents and stakeholders begin to get comfortable with a system and its components, the system changes once again.
Because of the accountability system’s history of change, it came as no surprise when changes were once again announced during the Kentucky Board of Education’s Feb. 3 meeting.
The changes are not yet finalized and are going through committee for review.
Proposed changes were made to align the accountability system with Senate Bill 158 which requires an accountability system that includes annual differentiation of public schools using multiple measures.
In order to make sense of the new system, here is some of what you need to know.
Two types of scores
The new system includes two types of scores: status and change.
The status score is a school’s score – based on its proficiency in English and mathematics which are reported as one category, its proficiency in science, social studies and writing which are reported as another category, English language learners progress, and quality of school climate and safety survey – for the current year.
Change scores compare the schools status scores year to year.
The status scores and change scores are used to determine the overall rating, or color, of the school. Under the proposed system, the highest-ranking color is blue with the lowest ranking being red. This replaces the stars used in the previous system.
The order of colors from highest to lowest are blue, green, yellow, orange and red.
Another change within the new system is the weights given to each of the categories listed above, which is used to calculate the status scores.
Two additional categories are added into high schools scores. Those categories are postsecondary readiness and graduation rates.
For all schools, reading and math scores are weighted more heavily than any other score. This is required by federal law. Proficiency scores for science, social studies and writing have the next heaviest weights for elementary and middle schools. Proficiency scores in those subjects are weighted heavily at the high school level, but it is weighted the same as postsecondary readiness scores.
The third major change proposed in the new accountability system is the minimum-N count number.
The minimum-N count number refers to the minimum number of students required to be within a specific student group, such as students with learning disabilities, English language learners, and students who receive free and reduced lunch, for that student group to receive accountability scores.
Under the current system, 10 students in a specific grade level would have to fall into the specific student group for that group to receive an accountability score. The proposed changes would require that 30 students in the entire school fall into that specific student group.
The minimum-N count changes are still being debated. The number may change before the final version of the changes is approved.
The Kentucky Board of Education has not finalized the changes to the accountability system. The changes, if implemented, are expected to take effect during the 2021-2022 academic year. The Kentucky Board of Education is expected to meet again on April 7, but the agenda for that meeting has not been released.