Graduation and student readiness continue to improve in latest Unbridled Learning assessment and accountability results

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(FRANKFORT, Ky.) – The number of students graduating from high school and considered college/career-ready continues to increase, according to data released by the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE).

In 2015, the college/career readiness rate jumped to 66.8 – up from 62.5 percent last year and 54.1 percent in 2013. The four-year graduation rate is up as well to 87.9 percent – from 87.5 percent in the 2013-14 school year.

“Kentucky schools are to be congratulated for their continued progress on graduating more students with the skills and knowledge they will need to succeed in the 21st century,” said Interim Education Commissioner Kevin C. Brown. “The gains we are seeing are the result of a lot of hard work by our teachers, administrators and our students with the support of parents, community members and our education partners.”

The percent of students scoring at the proficient and distinguished levels has increased in nearly every subject and at every grade level as compared to 2012, the first year of the K-PREP assessments. However, scores remained relatively flat in the past year.

“While we would like to see big gains in achievement every year, it is not uncommon to see some ups and downs from year to year. Overall, we are moving in the right direction from where we started,” Brown said.

However, students in groups that have historically had achievement gaps continue to lag behind their peers across multiple content areas and grade levels.

“KDE is in the process of addressing these persistent gaps by assisting schools and districts in the development of plans to meet the needs of all students and reduce novice student performance,” Brown said. “This is not only about compliance with state and federal law, but is a moral imperative about reaching each child. By focusing on the individual needs of students we will not only reduce achievement gaps, but also improve achievement for all students.”

The numbers of schools and districts performing at the highest levels are up from last year. A total of 704 schools and 120 districts are classified as either proficient or distinguished.

Also, 10 of the state’s 36 lowest-performing schools, known as Priority Schools, made enough improvement over the past three years to exit Priority status. Those schools are:

  • Bryan Station High School, Fayette County
  • Greenup County High School, Greenup County
  • Waggener High School, Jefferson County
  • Knox Central High School, Knox County
  • Lawrence County High School, Lawrence County
  • Lee County High School, Lee County
  • Lincoln County High School, Lincoln County
  • Newport High School, Newport Independent
  • Perry County Central High School, Perry County
  • Trimble County High School, Trimble County

Three schools, all in Jefferson County, entered Priority status:

  • Byck Elementary
  • Roosevelt Perry Elementary
  • Moore Traditional School

Priority Schools receive resources and are assigned education recovery staff from the state to assist them in their turnaround efforts.

To make it easier to determine how schools compare, for the first time KDE has produced a simple ranking of schools and districts based on their overall scores for 2013-14 and 2014-15. These scores reflect all the same components and are comparable. Instead of a percentile, a simple rank is displayed. The comparison file can be found under accountability in the supplemental data section of KDE Open House.

This is the fourth year the state has reported results from Kentucky’s Unbridled Learning for All Assessment and Accountability System.

The Unbridled Learning: College/Career-Readiness Accountability model is based on the Kentucky Board of Education’s strategic priorities: Next-Generation Learners, Next-Generation Instructional Programs and Support and Next-Generation Professionals. In 2014-15, accountability is based only on the components of the Next Generation Learners and Next-Generation Instructional Programs and Support.

In April, the Kentucky Board of Education voted to delay the addition of Next-Generation Professionals until the 2016-17 school year.

ACHIEVEMENT

Overall student performance on the Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP) was mixed in 2015, depending on the grade and subject. At the elementary level, the percentage of students performing at Proficient/Distinguished increased in social studies, writing on-demand and language mechanics. At the middle school level, the percentage of students performing at the Proficient/Distinguished levels increased in reading and language mechanics. High Schools also made gains in reading, writing on-demand and language mechanics.

In 2010, Kentucky was the first state to adopt more rigorous standards known as the Kentucky Academic Standards (KAS) in English/language arts and mathematics. The standards are aligned with college expectations and set the minimum for what students should know and be able to do by the end of each grade. Kentucky implemented the KAS in the 2011-12 school year with students first tested on the new standards in spring 2012.

In 2015, public school students in grades 3-8 took K-PREP tests in reading, mathematics, social studies, writing and language mechanics. Their performance is categorized as novice, apprentice, proficient or distinguished. Due to the state developing science assessments to align with new science standards implemented in the 2014-15 school year, elementary and middle school students were tested in science in 2015 using only a norm-referenced test, but those scores were not included in accountability.

High school students take K-PREP tests in writing and language mechanics plus end-of-course assessments in English II, Algebra II, Biology and U.S. History.

COLLEGE/CAREER-READINESS

Since 2012, the college/career-readiness rate among Kentucky high school graduates has skyrocketed from 47.2 percent to 66.8 percent in 2015 – up more than four percentage points in just the past year. That translates into 12,500 more students graduating from high school over the past four years ready to enter college or postsecondary career training programs without having to take expensive remedial courses for which they do not earn credit.

Additionally, the percentage of students meeting Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education benchmarks on the ACT is up nearly 10 percent in English, more than four percent in mathematics and more than 6 percent in reading since the state first started administering the test to all juniors in 2008.

For more details, including the data broken down by student group, visit the School Report Card on the Kentucky Department of Education’s website. These electronic report cards provide a wealth of information about each school and district including test performance, teacher qualifications, student safety, parent involvement and much more. State level data also is available. The School and District Report Cards were established by statute KRS 158.6453, and regulation 703 KAR 5:140. Additionally, the Report Cards must incorporate the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.

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