New accountability system shows little improvement for Kentucky schools

Published: Oct. 1, 2019 at 4:56 AM EDT
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A new accountability system for Kentucky's public schools shows little improvement overall.

“What is most concerning for me is far too many students, particularly economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities and students of color continue to perform at the Novice level on state assessments,” said Dr. Wayne Lewis, Commissioner of Education.

The new school accountability system awarded the highest five-star rating to 56 schools, while 89 schools lag at the other end of the scale with the lowest score.

The vast majority of public schools fall into the mid-range, three-star category.

The report classifies an additional 50 schools as being in need of improvement.

“As usual, there are Kentucky schools and districts that are improving. We should celebrate their success and learn from their transformational approaches to teaching and learning," Lewis said. "But the data also show that as a whole, our system is not yet ensuring each and every student – regardless of socioeconomic level, disability or race – is empowered and equipped to pursue a successful future.”

The new system also places an emphasis on closing achievement gaps. Some schools lost a star this year because of achievement gaps.

"The philosophy and ideology behind this is very clear," Lewis said. "We can't identify schools as being one of our very best if we can't ensure that all groups of students are learning at high levels."

Kentucky's new rating program is the result of a requirement that states update their school accountability systems as a result of a federal education law passed by Congress in 2015.

In Fayette County, three schools received five-star ratings: Rosa Parks Elementary and SCAPA's elementary and middle school programs.

Four schools got one-star ratings: Bryan Station High School, Winburn Middle School, and two elementary schools, Harrison and William Wells. The two elementary schools started a new initiative this school year as a way to combat previously low test scores. They are part of what's called

They have longer school days and more days in their calendar year.

There are nine schools in the Fayette County Public Schools district that were deemed to have notable achievement gaps. These are schools the state ranked one star below what they would have scored, because of a statistically significant gap. Those schools are Cassidy Elementary, Clays Mill Elementary, Wellington Elementary, Beaumont Middle School, Edythe Jones Hayes Middle School, Jessie M. Clark Middle School, Morton Middle School, Lafayette High School, and Paul Laurence Dunbar High School.

"We know we're doing the right work," said Fayette County Superintendent Manny Caulk. "We're going to continue to look at, not just this data, but other data that we use and continue to make improvements based on that data."