A group of people sitting at conference room tables working on laptops.

A panel of education stakeholders and policymakers gathered in Frankfort Sept. 13-14 to determine cut scores that will help to classify schools in Kentucky’s accountability system.
Photo by Jackie Thompson, Sept. 14, 2022.

A panel of education stakeholders and policymakers gathered in Frankfort Sept. 13-14 to participate in a standard-setting process for Kentucky’s new accountability system. The last accountability standard-setting process occurred in 2019 and was a 5-star system. It is now a color-coded system.

Using data from the 2021-2022 school year, Kentucky’s accountability system will provide an overall color-coded rating for each school, district and the state ranging from red (lowest) to blue (highest). The color-coded rating, along with other important education data, will be available on the Kentucky School Report Card, which is set to be publicly released on Oct. 18.

The diverse panel was made up of 26 members, including teachers, principals, superintendents, parents, students, state board members and other education stakeholders.

“Because the state accountability system impacts all public schools, it was critical that the accountability committee be representative and include a variety of voices and perspectives,” said Rhonda Sims, associate commissioner in the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE’s) Office of Assessment and Accountability (OAA). “Together, the members did exceptional work across the two-day meeting.”

Facilitated by staff from the national Center for Assessment, the standard-setting group discussed performance level descriptions (PLDs) – which describe performance expectations for each color ­– for each indicator and an overall school rating. The PLDs were used to help set the cut scores that fall into each of the colors.

The panel convened by KDE ultimately recommended cut scores that define performance expectations for each indicator and the overall school rating. The cut scores will help determine how schools will be classified.

“This diverse group of educators and stakeholders engaged in robust discussions about student and school performance and what accountability ratings mean and communicate,” said Jennifer Stafford, director of OAA’s Division of Assessment and Accountability Support.

Senate Bill 158 (2020) made significant changes to the statewide accountability system. These updates included:

  • 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 be displayed on an online colored dashboard; and
  • Requirements that state indicators be evaluated on “status” and “change,” and defines the terms.

Status represents a school’s performance for the current year, while change represents the school’s performance for the current year compared with the previous year. Since change will not be reported until 2023, the standard-setting group only addressed status during its meeting. There will be another standard-setting meeting next year to address cut scores for both status and change.

As required by KRS 158.6455, the group determined cut scores that will be recommended to Education Commissioner Jason E. Glass and the Local Superintendents Advisory Council (LSAC) for an overall rating that combines all indicators in Kentucky’s accountability system. The panel also recommended cut scores for each indicator to allow reporting of school performance ranging from very low to very high (i.e., very low, low, medium, high, very high) on each indicator.

LSAC is set to review the recommended cut scores at its Sept. 19 meeting.