KENTUCKY (11/2/12) – The results of the new Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP) tests are released (please see charts below for individual school results). The state test has changed. The new K-PREP tests are more rigorous and replace the Kentucky Core Content Tests which were given under the old CATS system. Students now experience more challenging curriculum, instruction and tests.
So what has changed?
Senate Bill 1, passed in 2009, required new standards for core subjects so that Kentucky students could be competitive in a global economy. Standards are the basis for content that is taught in reading and math. Two years later, Kentucky became the first of 46 states to adopt the Common Core State Standards in math and English/Language Arts. Standards for both science and social studies are being developed. The Common Core Standards provide a consistent national benchmark that assures students will be college and career ready. These became the Kentucky Core Academic Standards which were incorporated into the state’s classrooms in the 2011-2012 school year. Kentucky is the first state to also test these new national standards as part of its state accountability system. So, all eyes are on Kentucky as it leads the way once again in educational reform.
With college and career readiness as the main focal point for public schools in Kentucky, the new standards will help principals and teachers prepare students for a changing world and connect education with the economy and employment. It is not possible to compare the new scores with previous test scores since students are being assessed using different measures. The previous measure was that of basic proficiency in math and reading. The new measure is college and career readiness. The scores students receive on the state tests and their performance classifications (novice, apprentice, proficient, distinguished) are likely to appear lower than in the past. The intent of the new standards is to better prepare our students for college and the 21st century workplace. It is projected that over 60% of future jobs will require some training beyond high school.
“We will do whatever it takes to make sure our students are college and career ready after high school.
Our students need to be competitive globally, and with these new test standards, this will raise the bar to challenge and prepare them for the real world,” noted Henderson County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Thomas L. Richey.
In grades 3-8, the new tests are a blended model of norm-referenced and criterion-referenced questions.
The norm-referenced portion consists of multiple choice questions with results that use percentiles to compare our students to others in the state and nation. The criterion-referenced portion includes multiple choice, short answer and extended response questions written specifically for Kentucky’s new Core Academic Standards. The results give students a score considered novice, apprentice, proficient or distinguished in the subject area. The new test has a strict time limit which is approximately 40% less than time allotted in years past.
In grades 9-12 students take an end of course, final exam in English 2, Algebra 2, U.S. History, and Biology.
These end of course exams count both as 20% of their final grade for the course and toward the high school’s state accountability score. These exams include two multiple choice sections of 45 minutes and a written portion, called constructed response, of 45 minutes.
All of the students’ scores feed into the larger school score. In the past, schools and districts received an overall score on a scale 0 to 140. Under the new assessment and accountability system, schools and districts will receive an overall score on a scale 0 to 100. New school scores will be sequenced from high to low by elementary, middle or high school level, and then divided into equal sections called percentiles.
The formula for those measurements includes the following elements:
- Achievement- student achievement on reading, math, science, social studies and writing tests
- Gap- how achievement varies among different groups (minority, special education, low-income, limited English proficient) of students
- Growth- how much student performance improves in reading and math from one year to the next - College/Career Readiness- number of students who hit the targets to achieve the required level of preparation for life after high school.
- Graduation Rate- number of students completing high school on time
Elementary school scores are derived from Achievement (30%), Gap (30%) and Growth (40%).
Middle school scores are derived from Achievement (28%), Gap (28%), Growth (28%) and College and Career Readiness (16%).
High school scores are derived from Achievement (20%), Gap (20%), Growth (20%), College and Career
Readiness (20%) and Graduation Rate (20%).
Schools and districts at or above the 90th percentile will be labeled Distinguished. Those in the 70th to 89th percentile will be labeled Proficient. Those below the 69th percentile will be labeled Needs Improvement.
The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) has warned districts that scores will be lower as a result of the new standards, higher rigor and the fact that the scale tops at 100, not 140. KDE has projected
proficiency in reading to drop 36% in elementary schools, 30% in middle schools and 25% in high schools. Additionally, math proficiency is expected to drop 37% in elementary, 29% in middle schools and 10% in high schools.
Commissioner Terry Holliday adds, “The results of the Kentucky assessments are more closely aligned to results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Those results report proficiency at a much higher level than most state tests. Being proficient on NAEP is similar to our new college and career ready proficiency.”
Stu Silberman, Executive Director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, notes, “With the new standards, we’ve increased rigor, and we are teaching different subjects at earlier times to be more internationally benchmarked.”
The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence also cautioned that Kentucky schools are not failing. Stu Silberman adds, “Instead, student scores are lower precisely because we are expecting more of our students, not less. We are sure students can rise to our expectations, but they need some time to do so.”
Information provided by Danielle Crafton
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