PRICHARD ISSUES URGENT CALL FOR INVOLVEMENT TO BOOST SCHOOL RESULTS

Declining results in most subject areas and widening achievement gaps in many Kentucky schools evident in the recent release of state test results prompted the Prichard Committee to call for renewed public attention and action around progress in public education.

“Today’s results are everyone’s business,” said Brigitte Blom Ramsey, Prichard’s executive director. “For the Commonwealth’s system of public education to continue to improve and build on the progress in the last generation, citizens must be aware of the results for their schools and districts and begin to have courageous conversations about how to serve more students well. This is a moment of opportunity, a time to begin co-designing solutions with educators, students, parents, community and business leaders – side-by-side at the local level.”

The Prichard Committee spotlighted three major trends from the test scores, the results of exams that students across the state took last spring:

* The youngest elementary students made only slight gains over last year in elementary reading and declining results in elementary mathematics.  This pattern applies across nearly all student groups, with signs of better progress only for English learners.

* Results show an alarming drop in the number of students meeting Kentucky’s college readiness benchmarks on the ACT, including 5 percent declines in English and mathematics and a 7.5 percent decline in reading.  The significance of those results is important because after changes to the state’s testing and accountability system, ACT is the only academic readiness measure that can be fully compared to last year’s results.

* Even in schools performing relatively well overall, some groups of students are performing no better than the lowest 5 percent of schools in the state. For schools at all levels, 2018 is the first year of identifying schools for targeted support and improvement (TSI). This identifies schools based on having one or more student groups with performance like the lowest 5 percent of schools. This data show 418 schools have group results at that disturbingly low level, including 320 schools with very low results for students with identified disabilities.

Read the full Sept. 26 press release about test results at http://prichardcommittee.org/press-release-latest-school-accountability-results-call-on-kentuckians-to-come-together-around-a-shared-vision-for-progress-in-public-education/.

Kentucky is moving to a new accountability system aligned with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. The new system will classify schools under a five-star rating system.

Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis also sounded an urgent call in his remarks on this year’s results: “This is a daunting moment of truth for our state,” he said. “Instead of being discouraged, this is a call to action for schools, districts, educators, parents, students, and community and business leaders. We must take bold and immediate action for the benefit of our students.”

Read the state’s news release on the 2018 results at https://education.ky.gov/comm/news/Documents/R18-146%20%202017-18%20Accountability%20Results_final.pdf.

The Prichard Committee’s “Numbers Up” blog delved more deeply into the test results for each school level as compared to 2017 results. In a series of posts, the blog offered a breakdown of concerning elementary scores, mixed results at the middle school level, including potentially important increases in reading and writing proficiency but declines in math and social studies, declining ACT performance at high schools.

See the elementary post at www.prichardcommittee.org/2018-elementary-results-raise-concerns. Find the middle school analysis at www.prichardcommittee.org/2018-middle-school-results-are-mixed. High school insights are at www.prichardcommittee.org/rising-graduations-and-declining-act-scores-in-2018-high-school-results.

The Prichard Committee urged citizens to examine local results and begin important conversations between education and community leaders. The Prichard Committee stands ready to support citizens across the state as they mobilize at the local level to improve outcomes for students. In addition to multiple at www.prichardcommittee.org, we are actively seeking to support citizens who want to take a leadership role in their community. For support and resources, contact Kim Drummond, Director of Engagement at 859-233-9849 or kdrummond@prichardcommittee.org.

The state’s collection of 2018 test data is available at this link: http://openhouse.education.ky.gov/Data

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