The Kentucky Department of Education will release the results of the first Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP) next month.

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday

I know there is great anticipation – and maybe anxiousness – about what the results will reveal.

Kentucky educators are drawn to teaching by the belief they can make a positive difference in students’ lives – and you are.

So, it is difficult to be on the receiving end of what may be seen as bad news. Yet, we know for many of our schools that will the case with this first round of K-PREP results.

Science and social studies scores should be in line with past scores since the tests were based on the 2007 Kentucky Core Content for Assessment 4.1.But that’s not the case in English/language arts and mathematics.

Kentucky’s adoption of the more rigorous Common Core State Standards and K-PREP assessments tied to those standards, will lead to proficiency rates among students that are lower than what we’ve seen previously in the Kentucky Core Content Tests (KCCT).

Staff in KDE’s Office of Assessment and Accountability have provided a state-level look at potential changes in the percentages of students scoring at proficient on the state reading and mathematics assessments.

We have sent this projected proficiency chart out so that local superintendents, principals and teachers will not be surprised when the actual results are reported in October. As commissioner, I am working to communicate with all stakeholders about these significant changes. Our partners at the Prichard Committee and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce also have been working hard for over a year to communicate these changes. The Kentucky PTA also has been holding trainings with parents and educators in preparation for this fall’s assessment data release.

It is important for you to understand and share with parents, students and community members a few important points:

  • These results cannot be compared to previous results, since we are assessing students on a different standard. The previous standard was basic proficiency on math and reading. The new standard is college and career readiness.
  • We made the change to college and career readiness due to the competitive global economy that was the basis of 2009’s Senate Bill 1.
  • The results of the Kentucky assessments are more closely aligned to results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Those results report proficiency at a much higher level than most state tests. Being proficient on NAEP is similar to our new college- and career-ready proficiency.

Our reasons for the low scores are legitimate, and we should share and explain those to our communities. However, we cannot allow those reasons to become an excuse that keeps us from accepting the reality that our schools need to make greater and faster progress for the sake of Kentucky’s children and our state.

The Center on Education and the Workforce projects that more than 60 percent of jobs in the future will require some training beyond high school. This means that students must be better prepared for college-level work and career-entry requirements when they leave high school. We cannot allow our children to go out into the world without the skills they need to succeed.

We are on the right course and have been making positive changes to ensure Kentucky’s children are college/career-ready. We’ve seen some progress.  But it is hard work. And from time to time, it also can be disheartening.

Just as we tell our students when they get a low grade on a test, do not be discouraged. You must continue trying, work hard and use the results as the basis for improvement.

I know Kentucky educators are committed to doing what is right for their students, so I know you will stay the course and push forward toward our goal of college/career-readiness for ALL Kentucky students.