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Lower scores in first round of new testing expected

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Column by Mike Selvitelle

By MIKE SELVITELLE

In October, the Kentucky Department of Education will release the results of the first Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP) based on tests taken during the 2011-12 school year.

After three years of intensive work on this new accountability system, there is great anticipation about how Elizabethtown Independent Schools and student scores are going to look.

The first caution for those who look at the results is that this is a brand new system unlike any our district has seen before. With a completely new standard on college and career readiness — instead of basic proficiency — the results of these new assessments cannot be compared to previous years.

Additionally, Kentucky’s adoption of the more rigorous Common Core State Standards in math and English/language arts, as well as changes to the associated assessments, probably will lead to a substantial decrease in school and student scores. In some cases, it is anticipated that student and school scores will drop up to 40 points from past performances.

These lower scores will be hard to accept but they should not be seen as a reflection on the effort of Elizabethtown students, teachers and families. They reflect a new focus on the challenging job of preparing Elizabethtown students for college level work and career entry requirements.

The new assessment and accountability system is an improvement over past systems and will provide in-depth information about the performance of Elizabethtown students, schools and the district. There are five main components to the new accountability model.

Achievement shows basic student performance on K-PREP tests and labels student results as Distinguished, Proficient, Apprentice and Novice.

Gap evaluates how students who traditionally under-achieve are performing.

Growth evaluates student performance to ensure students are making progress from year to year.

College/career readiness assesses how well we are preparing students for life after high school.

Graduation Rate checks to see if our students are graduating on time.

These five components use several different sets of data gathered from Kentucky tests, ACT, Plan, Explore, end-of-course assessments, etc. and are weighted to provide overall percentile rankings for Elizabethtown schools and the district compared to other Kentucky school systems. Those schools in the top 10 percent will be labeled Distinguished, schools in the next 20 percent will be identified as Proficient and the remainder will be noted as Needs Improvement.

The Center on Education and the Workforce projects that 60 percent of future jobs will require training beyond high school. With the new Common Core Standards and this newly realigned assessment and accountability system, Elizabethtown Independent Schools have a good start on making sure that our students will be ready for college or career opportunities.

Mike Selvitelle is director of assessment and technology for Elizabethtown Independent Schools.