Interim Joint Committee on Education graphic

Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) officials reviewed the just-released accountability data on the Kentucky School Report Card for the 2022-2023 academic year at the Interim Joint Committee on Education meeting on Nov. 1.

Although the information was publicly released on Oct. 31, Kentucky Interim Commissioner of Education Robin Fields Kinney said the individual student results were released to schools in August, and some assessments – such as the ACT and English language proficiency assessments – were released earlier

The Kentucky School Report Card has new features for the 2022-2023 academic year because of the continued implementation of Senate Bill 158 (2020). This legislation established “status” and “change” as ways to evaluate state indicators. This is the first year where change is reported.

“Status” represents a school’s performance on a state indicator for the current year, while “change” represents the school’s performance on the indicator for the current year compared with the previous year. Status and change combine to provide a performance rating for each state indicator.

KDE Associate Commissioner Rhonda L. Sims in the Office of Assessment and Accountability said the 2022 and 2023 results share the same content standards, as well as the same cut scores for identifying novice, apprentice, proficient and distinguished students.

Kentucky public school students in grades 3-8, 10 and 11 took assessments called the Kentucky Summative Assessments and the Alternate Kentucky Summative Assessments, which are based on the Kentucky Academic Standards in reading, mathematics, social studies, science, editing and mechanics, and in on-demand writing.

With the introduction of “change” into the system, comparisons cannot be made to accountability data from 2022. Although the color-coded dials represent school accountability in 2022 and 2023, the system is vastly different with the inclusion of the “change” score and should not be compared.

Comparisons can, however, be made in assessment performance and in accountability between schools at each grade level (i.e., elementary to elementary) within the same year. The Kentucky School Report Card shows improvement in schools from 2022 to 2023 with students deemed proficient or distinguished at the elementary school level.

“Elementary schools pretty consistently moved forward,” said Sims. “They moved up. We’re seeing our best recovery and moving forward at the elementary school level.”

Middle schools saw slight improvements across the content areas, or stayed constant when compared to last year. High schools have stayed the same or declined from 2022 results.

Writing on demand, an area added by Senate Bill 158, increased at all levels.

“We do have improvement efforts that we do need to put into place,” said Kinney. “Some things we are already doing with your assistance.”

She named such improvement efforts as:

“But we do have challenges, and it is all part of the whole when we think about it,” Kinney said, citing challenges like the teacher shortage and the recruitment of high-quality teachers.

“The best thing we can have in the classroom is a high-quality teacher,” she said.

Kinney said chronic absenteeism and truancy also are issues in student achievement.

“When we have chronic absenteeism at 29.8%, those are times when we don’t have the opportunity to provide that quality instruction to our students,” she said. “So, we have to figure out something to do about chronic absenteeism. Really, the goal is to have every student engaged every single day. That’s the way that we have the best opportunity to make our test scores go up.”

Several legislators commented that school administrators would like to have the school report card information sooner to start addressing any issues earlier. Rep. Timmy Truett asked if in the upcoming year “there a possibility of getting things just a little bit quicker than this year.”

Sims said she thinks “one of the challenges is that things need to stay consistent in terms of the accountability piece in order to return the accountability results quicker.

“Each year, we have had to bring people together to determine when do you move from a red to an orange to a yellow, green in terms of accountability.”

As for assessment results, she said “we can work with our vendor to see if that can be speeded up a little bit.

“Part of the slow down there is we have some things that require some hand scoring. Most of the test is machine scored, but the hand scoring slows that piece down.”