unbridled learning1MARSHALL COUNTY, KY (10/10/12) – Test results can tend to make most people a little nervous. With the 2011-12 state test scores in Kentucky set to come out, many school systems around the state are anxious to see how their students performed. Marshall County Schools are no exception. They along with the many other districts in Kentucky may be a little more anxious than usual as this is the first set of scores under the new Unbridled Learning: College and Career Readiness for All accountability system.

Under Unbridled Learning, the state adopted a new assessment called Kentucky Performance Rating for Education Progress or K-PREP. K-PREP replaced the old accountability system that was called Commonwealth Accountability Testing System or CATS. The new Unbridled Learning and K-PREP were brought about with the passage of Senate Bill 1 in 2009. Senate Bill 1 brought about changes in the state of Kentucky’s public education system. CATS focused on student proficiency and used a 140 point scale, while Unbridled Learning and K-PREP focuses on college and career readiness with success after high school. K-PREP uses a 100 point scale.

Kentucky’s Education Commissioner Terry Holiday hopes this new testing system leads to a brighter future for students. “Every child proficient and prepared for success, which means all students graduate from high school college/career ready and prepared for the future,” said Holliday in a recent interview.

Kentucky’s Unbridled Learning system is based on multiple areas of school effectiveness. The areas fall into three major categories: Next-Generation Learners, Next-Generation Instructional Programs, and Next Generation Professionals and will be phased into the accountability system over the next several years. Next-Generation Learners is the main component of Unbridled Learning and is based on many measures of student performance on various exams. Points will be awarded based on how well a school performs on each measure. The five measures are: Achievement (tested content areas), Gap, Growth, College/Career Readiness, and Graduation Rate. Kentucky’s goal is 100% proficiency.

Each of these five measures will count for a certain percentage of a school’s score. How much it will count depends on the school’s grade range. For elementary schools, achievement counts for 30%, Gap counts for 30% and Growth counts for 40%. For Middle schools, Readiness for College/Career counts for 16% while Growth, Gap, and Achievement all account for 28% each. At the High school level, Achievement, Growth, Gap, and Readiness for College/Career, and Achievement are all 20%. These factors will be weighted and added together for an overall score.

Schools scoring in the 90th percentile or higher will be given the label of Distinguished. Schools scoring in the 70 to 89th percentile will be called Proficient, while schools scoring below the 70th percentile will be seen as Needing Improvement.

One effect to changing over to a new accountability system is that districts have been told by the Kentucky Department of Education to brace for lower scores. For example, a school scoring 108 on the CATS test may see their new KPREP score drop to an 88. Likewise a student who typically performed at proficient levels on CATS may actually be at an apprentice when scored in the new system. It doesn’t necessarily mean kids aren’t doing well. What it really means is that the state of Kentucky is raising the bar for its schools and their students, as tougher standards have been put in place to help kids become more college and career ready. In short, tests are now more rigorous than in the past to help kids become more competitive in the future.

Marshall County schools are excited about the new testing system and the changes it has brought about. Abby Griffy, MCSD Elementary Supervisor, feels that students and ultimately the state will benefit from Unbridled Learning and K-PREP. “The intent in raising the bar is to help more students be better prepared for college and the 21st century workplace. We should not dwell on trying to compare previous years’ data with the new results. We should focus on what we need to do to help all students be successful after high school. As educators, it is challenging us to up our game and we are preparing to meet this challenge head on.” said Griffy.

More information about the new accountability system can be found on the KDE website or at http://www.education.ky.gov/nr/rdonlyres/2efe5a99-87b3-4d8c-81ed-8bc3229324f6/0/parentsguideaccountability041012.pdf.

SurfKY News
Information provided by Russ Buchanon

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