Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence

School Accountability System

October 4, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information, contact:
Brigitte Blom Ramsey, Executive Director
(office) 859-233-9849
(cell) 859-322-8999
brigitte.blomramsey@prichardcommittee.org

Following Accountability Results Released this Week: Coalition Supports Attention to Achievement Gaps in the New 5-Star School Accountability System

Urges Kentucky Department of Education to Hold Family-Community Focus Groups to Improve School Report Card

A coalition of organizations representing business, education advocates, civil rights groups and community leaders have gathered to consider matters of equity in education. Members of the coalition issuing this statement include:

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
Kentucky Coalition for English Learners
Kentucky State Conference of NAACP Branches
GEAR UP Kentucky
Hasan Davis Solutions L.L.C.
Louisville Urban League
Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence

The coalition members commend the Kentucky Department of Education for efforts to provide state and district leaders, educators, families, and citizens across the Commonwealth with meaningful evidence of education progress through the 5-Star School Accountability System.

We commend the stakeholder working group that met ahead of this week’s accountability release to consider the cutoff scores and ranges for the 5-Star School Accountability System and, most importantly, the impact achievement gaps would have on the stars earned by each school.

The Coalition is fully supportive of the recommendation that the 5-Star School Accountability System be based on student progress toward meeting the state’s learning standards and that 4- and 5-star schools and districts lose a star if significant achievement gaps exist.

To further support student success and school-community engagement, the Coalition wants to ensure that every parent, family, and interested community member can easily access and understand the information on the school report card. The information contained in the report card is valuable for families to make informed decisions about their child’s education and also for communities to support and expect stronger progress for each and every student in their district.

The availability, accessibility, and transparency of the information contained in the school report card is, in fact, an equity issue at its core. Therefore, we express the following concerns and recommendations:

  • ACCESSIBILITY: The new school report card should be easily accessible to all stakeholders. Currently, the data are immense and complicated, and there are many layers of information. The coalition is concerned that it is difficult for parents and stakeholders to find the information they need and to understand what the data are telling them. Ensuring families and communities are able to understand the new accountability system and navigate the school report card is an imperative if communities are going to be fully informed and have ownership in the system such that improvement is real and sustained.

Further, given the growing diversity within our school districts and across the state, it is particularly important for language support to be provided to parents who are not proficient in English, including: being available in different translations and the information being displayed in a manner that is easy to comprehend. This is an equity issue for students who are learning English and whose families speak English as a second language.

  • TRANSPARENCY: Transparency is vital for parents and stakeholders to become aware of, comprehend, and fully understand the degree to which schools and districts are providing equitable opportunities for students. Transparency in reporting will ensure that others who have a vested interest in assisting our schools with closing opportunity and achievement gaps are also able to understand and interpret the meaning in the data. As an example, previous “mock-ups” of the school report card landing page included prominent displays of outcomes for various student groups (e.g., Racial Groups, English Learners, Special Education, Economically Disadvantaged, etc.). This information no longer appears to be easily viewed on the landing page. Such a display would make it very easy for parents and other stakeholders to understand the performance of each student group relative to other student groups – highlighting important inequities that the accountability system seeks to remedy.

Based on the above statements, we urge the Department of Education to host a series of family-community focus groups, including a diverse set of families, across the state to provide feedback on the accessibility and transparency of the school report card, and to use that information to ensure the 2020 school report card serves the intended purpose of equipping parents and communities with the knowledge needed about student performance so that we can all work together to improve outcomes and progress.The members of the Equity Coalition, many of whom have been involved in the working groups that contributed to the development of the 5-Star School Accountability System, will continue to collaborate to ensure that the state’s accountability system and the information provided to the public serves to help Kentucky’s students’ progress and maintain a strong system of public education.

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The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence is an independent, nonpartisan, citizen-led organization working to improve education in Kentucky, with excellence and equity – early childhood through postsecondary.