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Prichard Committee: Monitoring school performance needed across groups; communities must mobilize

The Prichard Committee supports meaningful standards, high expectations and robust accountability that helps ensure quality learning for all students in Kentucky schools. The new cut scores set by the Kentucky Board of Education mean that schools will be identified for support and improvement if they fall below the established thresholds in three categories of student learning – not just for the entire student body in a school, but within and across every student group including students of all races and ethnicities, students with low family incomes, students with learning differences and students with limited English proficiency.
Nearly one out of every two families with students attending a public school can expect to see their school named on the list of Targeted or Comprehensive Support and Improvement schools released by the Kentucky Department of Education later this month.

“Being intentional about monitoring the performance of all student groups is an important step toward narrowing and closing achievement gaps that have persisted for far too long,” said Brigitte Blom Ramsey, Executive Director of the Prichard Committee.

“As we anticipate nearly half of our schools being identified as needing some level of support and improvement, citizens and policymakers must be prepared to act. Parents, community members, and business leaders must be willing to mobilize community resources to improve outcomes for all students. Further, to adequately equip and engage all stakeholders, leaders must be willing to invite community involvement by making diagnostic reports and improvement plans available to the public.”

In addition to the need for community mobilization, funding for the Kentucky Department of Education and for the School Improvement Fund will be necessary. Funding should be a high priority for the 2020 budget session if we are going to deliver on the promise in SB1(2017) to adequately improve outcomes for more Kentucky students.
Another important piece discussed was the proposed changes to the high school graduation requirements. There is clearly a shared commitment around ensuring a meaningful high school diploma, which is important with less than 70 percent of the 2016 graduating seniors deemed college or career ready. (See our previous statement).

However, building on Kentucky’s past commitment to college readiness with the right balance of foundational requirements and rich, rigorous personalized pathways is critical and many questions remain ahead of the next KBE meeting in October – including the minimum requirements for mathematics. 

“As the Prichard Committee stated in its 2005 report “High Achieving High Schools,” if we’re committed to developing a highly skilled workforce for the future, all students should be required to take math through Algebra II, which is widely accepted as a predictor of college success,” Ramsey stated. “Algebra II is part of a foundation in numeracy, should not be seen as an option, and should be maintained as a graduation requirement for all students.” 

For reference:

The Kentucky Board of Education approved new performance standards to determine how school districts will be identified as low performing based on Kentucky’s new school accountability plan approved earlier this year. With an increased focus on closing achievement gaps, schools who do not meet a set of ‘cut scores’ in three categories for all students or for any specific student group will fall into two levels of support:

• Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI): As required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, the 50 Title 1 schools that fall in the bottom 5 percent of schools will be identified each year for Comprehensive Support and Improvement. Schools that fall into this category must go through a diagnostic review, using the results to develop a plan to improve in areas of concern. The school submits their improvement plan to the Kentucky Department of Education for approval and may also apply for a competitive school improvement grant to support the implementation of its plan (funds available July 2019). If a CSI-designated school does not make any annual improvement, as determined by KDE, for two consecutive years, or if the school does not exit the status after three years, the school enters a school intervention process chosen by the commissioner of education that provides more rigorous support and action by the department to improve the school’s performance.

• Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI): Schools that fall below the cut scores for any student group are identified for Targeted Support and Improvement; between 40 to 50 percent of Kentucky schools are expected to fall into this category. TSI schools are not designated any additional state support or resources, but retain this designation for 3 years while they undertake efforts to improve in the areas of concern. At the end of 3 years, TSI schools may exit this status if they meet minimum exit criteria. If they fail to make improvement, they will be designated for Comprehensive Support and Improvement.

From Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence

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