The Time Is Now to Provide Feedback on Kentucky’s New Accountability System

By Brigitte Blom Ramsey

Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) Commissioner Stephen Pruitt released his State of P-12 Public Education Report on February 22. The lead and major thread of that report was the need to do more to ensure that every one of Kentucky’s 650,000 children have more opportunities to succeed in school and in life.

That appeal is the core mission of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. For more than three decades, the Committee and the many citizens and institutions who support our cause, including KDE, have called for policies and grassroots action that build a path to a larger life for all Kentuckians.

Our aspiration was echoed in the commissioner’s town hall meetings last year, when thousands of citizens said they wanted an educational system that promoted development of the “whole child.” To mature, and succeed in creating productive citizens, all levels of that system must be held accountable for every student’s achievement – a concept that the Committee calls “Excellence with Equity.”

Over the next few months, all Kentucky citizens will have another chance to join the conversation and provide feedback on Kentucky’s new accountability framework. KDE will gather responses through a series of town hall meetings that run through May 1, partner meetings and meetings of the Commissioner’s Advisory Councils. The commissioner is also expected to record a video that people can watch and then submit online feedback as an additional option for engagement. (Click here for Town Hall Dates)

The accountability framework is one of the most important policies that the Commonwealth of Kentucky sets for P-12 education. The Prichard Committee has been an active participant with KDE and other stakeholders in creating the new system and we are anxious as well for citizen feedback.

The proposed accountability model will be how the state communicates ambitious goals for student learning, how it educates and empowers parents with information about schools, and one of the ways it provides state and local education leaders and policymakers with data to help make more informed decisions to improve opportunities for each student.

Accountability and transparency for student results have long been high priorities for the Prichard Committee, which believes the new system should serve the following four essential purposes:

  • Provide information about student performance to parents, policymakers and the broader public that they can act upon to make improvements.
  • Sustain a sense of urgency to improve student learning, including identifying schools and districts that need special support to better serve students.
  • Communicate priority focus areas for statewide improvement.
  • Illuminate the return on investments in Kentucky’s public education system and encourage ambitious goals for student outcomes to guide Kentucky to the top of national education rankings in the next ten years.

For the system to work effectively, it must drive outcomes in core subject areas, increase postsecondary readiness and provide every student with opportunities to explore and perform in areas of interest, so they succeed in school and in life.

KDE will submit its final accountability plan to the U.S. Department of Education in September, so there is ample time for the public to share suggestions, concerns, and questions before the plan takes its final form.

The time is now for public engagement that is critical to the successful implementation of the new accountability system. It is a critical component in assuring that Kentucky attains top tier ranking for educational achievement – for our state and for each and every student in our state.

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