Board considers new social studies, arts standards

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At its meeting Tuesday, the Kentucky Board of Education discussed potential changes to the Unbridled Learning Accountability Model and reviewed new social studies and arts and humanities standards.

The board heard the first reading of 704 KAR 3:303, Kentucky Academic Standards. Proposed new social studies standards and arts and humanities standards align to college/career-readiness and conform to the requirements for new standards established by Senate Bill 1 (2009).

Karen Kidwell,  director of the Division of Program Standards for the Kentucky Department of Education, told the board that the vision of the proposed social studies standards is that “we create active citizens who participate productively in the world around them.”

Karen Kidwell, director of the Division of Program Standards, updates the Kentucky Board of Education on proposed standards for social studies and arts and humanities. Photo by Tim Thornberry, Oct. 7, 2014
Karen Kidwell, director of the Division of Program Standards, updates the Kentucky Board of Education on proposed standards for social studies and arts and humanities. Photo by Tim Thornberry, Oct. 7, 2014

Kidwell indicated to the board that 15 anchor standards at each grade level are arranged around four disciplinary core concepts: civic mindedness, historical thinking, geographic reasoning and economic decision-making. She said the standards focus on deeper learning and inquiry, not just the memorization of historical facts.

The proposed standards encourage students to make connections to the world around them and apply their knowledge and skills. Kentucky educators wrote the standards, informed by the C3 Framework, How Students Learn: History in the Classroom, and other publications, including the Global Competence Matrix and P21 Skills.

Kidwell said the proposed arts and humanities standards are designed “to engage students in the processes used to create and understand artistic expression.” The standards are built upon four artistic processes – creating; performing, presenting and producing; responding; and connecting – and 11 overarching anchor standards in five disciplines: dance, media arts, music, theater and visual arts. Kidwell explained that the proposed arts and humanities standards include discipline-specific performance standards.

The National Coalition for Core Arts Standards, led by Kentucky educator Phil Shepherd, developed the new standards and involved more than 70 writers with the input of more than 6,000 reviewers.

Both sets of standards will come back before the board at its December meeting for approval.

Ken Draud, associate commissioner for the Office of Assessment and Accountability, discussed 20 proposed changes in the Unbridled Learning Accountability Model with the board. Photo by Tim Thornberry, Oct. 7, 2014
Ken Draud, associate commissioner for the Office of Assessment and Accountability, discussed 20 proposed changes in the Unbridled Learning Accountability Model with the board. Photo by Tim Thornberry, Oct. 7, 2014

In other business, the board considered changes to the Unbridled Learning Accountability Model that the state has operated under for the past three years. Ken Draut, associate commissioner for the Office of Assessment and Accountability, told the board the intent of any changes is to downplay any disincentives unintentionally created by the current model, provide stronger incentives for school and district improvement and address perceptions of fairness on some of the calculations.

“No system will be perfect, but we want to try and get as close as possible,” Draut said of the potential changes.

The state board considered 20 recommendations from staff and stakeholder groups, the majority of which were reviewed by superintendents and the School Curriculum, Assessment and Accountability Council (SCAAC). The board directed staff to come back at the December meeting with recommendations to:

  • track the performance of alternative school students to districts if a student has never attended another school in the district
  • base a school’s and district’s Annual Measurable Objective for improvement on only the components of Next Generation Learners (achievement, gap, growth, graduation and college/career-readiness)
  • report successful completion of dual credit, International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement courses in the School Report Card
  • raise the graduation rate that schools must meet to exit Priority or F-focus School status
  • create a new way to identify Focus Schools by creating a minimal cut score for each gap group
  • adjust the weights of Next-Generation Learners at the elementary level to better balance the distribution of growth, gap, and achievement (current weights are 40 percent growth and 30 percent each for gap and achievement)

The board rejected proposals to:

  • change the college/career-readiness bonus to recognize excellence in either college OR career measures rather than both, as it is currently
  • adopt a new bonus for students who are college- and career-technical ready
  • consider students who enroll in college remedial courses to be considered college-ready without the validation of a COMPASS, KYOTE or ACT test
  • adjust the overall score for schools with high percentages of poverty students
  • reduce the 23 percent weight of Program Reviews in the accountability model; the board requested more information on the audit process before making any changes

In other action, the board approved:

  • the Statement of Consideration to amend  702 KAR 1:160, School Health Services
  • the Statement of Consideration for 703 KAR 5:260, Intervention Options in Priority Schools and Districts
  • the final order from the August 26 Breathitt Co. hearing to continue state management
  • Kentucky Schools for the Blind and Deaf School Facilities Policy
  • 705 KAR 4:250, Energy Technology Engineering Career Pathway
  • 2014-15 local district tax rates levied
  • Waiver request of Section 2 (1-9) of 702 KAR 6:090 for all School Districts

The board also upheld the commissioner’s ruling in the review of the Warren County/Bowling Green Independent Nonresident Student Appeal and directed the two districts to enter into mediation and report back to the board in December on progress in preparation for any agreements for the 2015-16 school year.

Finally, the board discussed the performance of Commissioner Terry Holliday in his annual evaluation. Chair Roger Marcum told Holliday, “The board strongly supports your continued tenure as commissioner and believes you are the right person at the right time to move Kentucky education forward.” A formal written evaluation will be presented to the commissioner at the next board meeting on Dec. 3 in Frankfort. The commissioner also will present his goals for improvement for the 2014-15 school year.

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