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By RON BENNINGFIELD
Under the Unbridled Learning assessment and accountability system, the main goal of schools and districts across Kentucky is to ensure that all students, when they graduate from high school, will be college or career ready.
In order to determine how these schools and districts are accomplishing this goal, the Kentucky Department of Education requires each of them to develop and submit an annual comprehensive improvement plan.
“Comprehensive plans are intended to be our roadmap for continuous improvement,” said Amanda Reed, LaRue County Schools’ instructional supervisor. “Plans are built around goals and measurable objectives.”
All Kentucky schools and districts are required to use the ASSIST planning software by AdvancEd to create their plans. This was mandated to ensure uniform formats across the state whereas in the past each district developed its own format.
“KDE can now access our plans and see where we are in the process,” Reed said. “In the past, we simply waited until it was complete and posted a copy of the plan on our website. They had to hunt for it.”
The Kentucky Board of Education is requiring schools and districts to use four stock goals that align to their own goals.
1. Increase achievement for all student groups in Kentucky so that the achievement gap decreases from __ percent in 2012 to __ percent in 2017 as measured by school report (levels measured are elementary, middle, high school, district wide).
2. Increase the percentage of students who are college and career ready from __ percent to __ percent by 2015 (high school and district).
3. Increase the average freshman graduation rate from __ percent to __ percent by 2015 (high school, district).
4. Increase the averaged combined reading and math K-prep scores for elementary and middle school students from __ percent to __ percent in 2017 (elementary, middle, district).
The goals are long term, set for 2015 and 2017. The measurable objectives are one-year, set for 2013, noted Reed.
“Most of the numbers we will use to fill in the blanks come directly from our School Report Card,” she said.
School and district plans must be approved and posted by Feb. 1. School plans must be approved by their site-based decision-making councils. The district plan goes before the board of education for approval at its Jan. 22 meeting.
Each plan includes an executive summary containing a vision and mission statement; demographic school/district data; a needs assessment; a delineation of goals, objectives and strategies to show how those needs will be addressed; and a set of signed assurances that declare the plans submitted are in compliance with state statutes and regulations.
Plans are sent to the Kentucky Department of Education upon submission, but not all of them will be reviewed or monitored every year. Some will be checked as part of the accountability process. Others, as part of the Consolidated Monitoring process for Title I, Title II and other federal programs.
“Improvement plans are living, breathing documents that can be revised at any time as the need arises,” Reed said. “A plan is not set in stone once approved in January.”
The schools and district will track the implementation of activities in the plan and the impact that implementation is having on student achievement for the rest of this year and into fall 2013 until the 2013 test scores arrive in September.
“At that time, the needs assessment process will begin again and lead to revision of the 2012-13 plan into the 2013-14 plan,” Reed said.
Ron Benningfield is a correspondent for LaRue County Schools.