‘Unbridled Learning’ test scores due out Friday

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By Dave Taylor

The Kentucky Department of Education will release test score and school/district accountability data this Friday, Nov. 2. This marks the first release of data from the Unbridled Learning accountability model, which Kentucky implemented beginning in the 2011-12 school year. The data to be released reflects test scores and other information from that school year.

Trimble County School system officials, like many other education leaders around the state are trying to help parents prepare for possible negative publicity surrounding a huge difference in test scores when the state releases the results from the new K-Prep testing system. Both Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday and Marcia Dunaway, the Superintendent of Trimble County Schools, are proactively steeling everyone for a big change in the numbers since the results were reported after the release of test scores last year.

“Across the state, the numbers will show a marked decline,” Holliday said. “The main reason is that previous testing was based on a 140 point scale, while this year’s test is based on a 100 point scale. The new scores will range from 0 to 100 and will look more like a grade average we are all more used to. It should make more sense to the public and to parents of our students.”

The principals of Bedford Elementary, Milton Elementary, TCMS and TCHS are meeting with the district’s leadership team to have a preliminary look at each school’s data. Instructional Supervisor Rebecca Moore says the results are embargoed until late October. Across the state Commissioner of Education, Dr. Holliday, is explaining that the lower scores will be legitimate. However, the Commissioner is saying that schools will need to make greater and faster progress over time.

“We have been told, for several months now, that the test score numbers are going to be low in the beginning,” Dunaway said.

The new assessment is based on a national set of common core standards that have been adopted in 46 states, according to a statement released by Scott Burrows, a member of the Trimble County Board of Education.

The Unbridled Learning model holds public schools and districts accountable for five primary areas:

· Achievement – student performance on subject-area tests

· Gap – gaps in academic performance among students who are ethnic minorities, have disabilities, are English language learners or come from low-income households and students who do not fit into those categories

· Growth – student academic growth in reading and mathematics

· College/Career Readiness – how well schools and districts prepare students for life after high school

· Graduation Rate – how many students graduate on time

Based on the results, schools and whole districts will receive overall classifications, based on their overall scores:

· Distinguished – the top 10 percent of districts or schools from the elementary, middle and high school levels (90th percentile)

· Proficient – in the top 30 percent of districts or schools from the elementary, middle and high school levels (70th percentile)

· Needs Improvement – schools/districts falling outside of the Proficient or Distinguished categories and not meeting their AMOs (at or below the 69th percentile)

The Unbridled Learning accountability model is used for both state and federal reporting purposes. In early 2012, Kentucky received flexibility from the U.S. Department of Education to use this model in place of the No Child Left Behind model that had been in place since 2001.

Schools will be expected to improve each year and work on targeting low income and other “gap students.”

The new standards were sought when research showed that an alarming number of high school graduates have to take remedial classes in college and vocational programs. Supt. Dunaway says that while the change in the testing system will be tough in the beginning, it better prepares us to compare the progress of Trimble County schools to children in the rest of the country and the world. “We will now have our marching orders, and are on task to improve student performance in the Trimble County School district.”