Courtney Turay, a music teacher at Lemon's Mill Elementary (Scott County), speaks during the 2016 Town Hall Meeting in Lexington while other crowd members wait to speak.

Courtney Turay, a music teacher at Lemon’s Mill Elementary (Scott County), speaks during the 2016 Town Hall Meeting in Lexington while other crowd members wait to speak.
Photo by Bobby Ellis, April 7, 2016

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) – Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt will be hosting a series of regional Town Hall Meetings across the Commonwealth to gather feedback from Kentuckians on a new accountability system that has been under development for the past year.

“This system goes beyond compliance, focuses on students and truly reflects Kentucky’s values,” Pruitt said. “The comments collected at Town Hall Meetings last year, such as we need to educate the whole child, go beyond test scores, and ensure opportunity and access to a quality education for all, informed the development of the system.”

Under the as yet unnamed system, schools would be evaluated on how well they perform on five indicators: Proficiency, Achievement Gap Closure, Student Growth (elementary and middle school only), Transition Readiness and Opportunity and Access. Each indicator includes multiple measures. Some will be reported only; others will figure into a school’s overall accountability rating. Data will be reported online in a dashboard format that better illustrates school/district progress or deficits than a single number. Data will be reported by student group where available to create more transparency on where gaps may exist.

The work was driven by the congressional reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA shifts much of the oversight and responsibility for schools from the federal government to the state – including how accountability is determined and how to define and improve low-performing schools.

Approximately 3,500 Kentuckians, including superintendents, principals, teachers, parents, business and community members and education partners have participated in the accountability system’s development thus far, either through Town Hall Meetings, by providing online feedback or by serving on one of the groups that worked on drafting the system.

“This has been a collaborative effort from the get-go,” Pruitt said. “I want to stress that the collaboration doesn’t end here. This round of Town Hall Meetings is just as important as the ones last year. I hope parents, community members, teachers, students, legislators, business owners and concerned citizens will come to these meetings ready to share their thoughts and ideas,” he added. “It’s in everyone’s best interest to create a system that will prepare our students to be successful, productive citizens of the Commonwealth.”

The first Town Hall Meeting will be on Monday, March 13 at 6:30 p.m., local time, in northern Kentucky at Simon Kenton High School in Independence. In all, 10 Town Hall Meetings are scheduled. A Virtual Town Hall Meeting also is being planned, with details to be released at a later date.

The full listing of Town Hall Meeting dates, locations and times follows.

Those planning to attend a Town Hall Meeting and requiring interpretive services for the deaf or hard of hearing are asked to contact Susan Palmer at the Kentucky Department of Education, or phone at (502) 564-3141, ext. 4805, at least a week prior to the meeting to request services. Interpretive services for the Kenton Co. Town Hall Meeting will be provided if requested by the close of business on Friday, March 10.

Kentuckians who are unable to attend the meetings still will have the opportunity to submit their feedback. Details can be found on Kentucky’s ESSA webpage starting March 10.

KDE will provide updates on the meetings on its Facebook page and Twitter account @KyDeptofEd. A dedicated hashtag, #KyEdListens, also is being used for the events.