During its May 31 regular meeting, the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE’s) Local Superintendents Advisory Council (LSAC) approved proposed amendments to 704 KAR 3:305, a regulation that outlines the minimum requirements for high school graduation.
Senate Bill (SB) 61, passed during the 2022 legislative session, requires regulatory changes but maintains the Kentucky Board of Education’s authority on minimum requirements for high school graduation per 704 KAR 3:305. The bill also removes end-of-course examinations due to the vendor no longer supporting the exams and removes naming ACT as the sole vendor for establishing college readiness benchmarks.
KDE’s Chief Academic Officer, Micki Ray, said before considering the regulatory changes required by SB 61, KDE analyzed internal data and data provided by KYSTATS to form the amendments to the regulation.
KDE also integrated feedback from internal and external partners, such as the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) and the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA), and leaned upon the United We Learn vision for the future of education in Kentucky and the recent discussions around a statewide portrait of a learner/graduate.
One amendment to the regulation clarifies the distinction between “graduating early” and the Early Graduation Program (EGP). Students who graduate early have met the same minimum state and local graduation requirements, but they have done so on an accelerated timeline. A student in the EGP completes specific program requirements that result in a certificate and a scholarship from KHEAA.
Other amendments to the regulation include establishing Individual Learning Plan support at the beginning of 6th grade and allowing schools until Oct. 15 to enter student intent to complete the EGP into Infinite Campus.
For EGP students graduating during the 2022-2023 school year only, they must communicate their intent to their principal within the provided timeframe; meet CPE college entrance exam benchmarks; and complete at least one financial literacy program or course, as required by KRS 158.1411.
During the 2023-2024 school year, districts are responsible for updating their EGP policies or creating a new policy in order to provide schools with a framework that is student-directed and aligned with the locally established workplace ethics program. Districts should provide these updates to the school by July 1, 2023.
Schools can implement the district policy at the start of the 2023-2024 school year, with the focus being a student-led experience to support academic readiness and the attainment of the critical skills and competencies the student must exhibit to be successful.
Sarah Peace, policy advisor in KDE’s Office of Teaching and Learning, said this process is designed to allow the student – with the support of their school counselor – to develop their own action plan and strategy to complete the program. The student will share their strategy in an entrance interview with the principal or designee, discussing the goals they have identified and the strategy to meet them.
Students also will be required in the 2023-2024 school year to earn all 10 foundational credits and complete the workplace ethics program put in place by the district.
During the 2024-2025 school year, EGP students must meet the previous year’s requirements and complete a performance-based project, portfolio or capstone demonstrating:
- Essential workplace ethics indicators;
- Kentucky Academic Standards application as lifelong learners and engaged citizens;
- Written and verbal communication; and
- Critical thinking, synthesis of information and drawing conclusions.
The LSAC approved the proposed amendments, which will be presented to the Kentucky Board of Education during its regular meeting on June 8 for final approval.
Accountability Standard Setting
KDE’s Office of Assessment and Accountability (OAA) Associate Commissioner Rhonda Sims, along with Director Jennifer Stafford, joined the meeting to inform LSAC members about the process to set the standards for the state’s accountability system going into effect this fall.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools experienced no state testing in 2020 and less than full testing in 2021, resulting in limited assessment and no accountability reporting. Schools are approaching more normal levels of testing this year and in the fall of 2022, there will be assessment and accountability reporting.
SB 158 (2020) made significant changes to the statewide accountability system. These updates include:
- Performance based on a combination of academic and school quality indicators and measures, known as “state indicators”;
- Requirements that a school’s indicators, overall performance, status and change to be displayed on an online colored dashboard; and
- Requirements that state indicators be evaluated on “status” and “change,” and defines the terms.
Status will be reported beginning in the fall of 2022, and represents a school’s performance for the current year. Change will be reported beginning in the fall of 2023, and represents the school’s performance for the current year compared with the previous year.
A school’s overall performance rating will combine performance on exclusive state indicators: state assessment results in reading and mathematics; state assessment results in science, social studies and writing; English learner progress; postsecondary readiness; graduation rate; and quality of school climate and safety.
The overall performance rating will be expressed as one of five colors: blue, green, yellow, orange or red, with blue as the highest score and red as the lowest.
OAA will host the accountability standard-setting workshop on Sept. 13-14, which will establish cut scores for status on each indicator and the overall performance rating.
Brian Gong, Chris Domaleski and Laura Pinsonneault from the Center for Assessment, an organization which strives to increase student learning through more meaningful educational assessment and accountability practices, will facilitate the two-day workshop.
Various educators and stakeholders throughout the state will be selected to participate in this accountability standard setting, including two members of the LSAC.
“Most state education agencies set the cut scores themselves, and they don’t bring in people,” said Stafford. “(In) Kentucky, we like to have people engaged in the process. So OAA will invite many stakeholders from across the Commonwealth to be part of this process.”
Following the standard setting workshop, the Standards Setting Committee will submit the cut scores for review and approval to both LSAC and KDE.
Kentucky Education Commissioner and Chief Learner Jason E. Glass emphasized the role the LSAC has within this standard-setting process.
“What we are hoping to avoid is that we go through this work and when we get into September, we ask you to set the standards and then there’s a desire to sort of open the whole process again. … That’s why we’re coming to you early to say, ‘Here’s the plan,’” said Glass.
LSAC members Robbie Fletcher, Lawrence County Schools superintendent, and Sheila Mitchell, Anderson County Schools superintendent, were nominated and approved to participate in the standard-setting meeting in September.
In other business, the LSAC:
- Heard an update from Glass on school safety efforts; and
- Elected Fletcher as the new LSAC chair and David Raleigh, LaRue County Schools superintendent, as vice chair.