Commissioner of Education Pruitt outlines new school accountability system

06/13/2017 12:46 PM

LEXINGTON – Kentucky Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt was in Lexington on Monday to explain and get input from public school teachers on Kentucky’s newly proposed accountability system which was discussed at the June Kentucky Board of Education meeting.

Pruitt is traveling the state this summer meeting with public school teachers and administrators about the new system which has been in development for more than a year with input from thousands of Kentucky educators and the general public.

The board will consider final approval in August, and if approved, the new plan would be implemented for the 2018-2019 school year.

“We are going to be going around the state doing some focus groups in the next couple of months, we want to hear what are citizens have to say,” Pruitt said “We want it be clear and transparent to them, but we also want them to be able to shape what we’re doing.”

The passage of Senate Bill 1 during the in the 2017 Kentucky General Assembly session effectively ended the current system.

The proposed new accountability system shows that schools and districts would earn a star rating and a possible supplemental designation focused on achievement gaps based on their performance on various indicators.

“It allows us to build a vision for Kentucky’s education future,” Pruitt said. “The idea of a star system is really more around how do we assure continuance improvement,” Pruitt said. “Five star districts are operating at outstanding type levels. A one star school are basically our bottom five percent that need some type of intervention. With this new system, you’re looking at five indicators that roll up into the one big overall so you can see how does a school do with proficiency, what opportunities and access are they providing their students, what’s growth look like, what’s transition ready look like, how well are they meeting the needs of all students. It’s an intent to be more transparent and to provide more opportunity.”

Pruitt admits that a lot of factors go into equation of student success, including poverty and home environment, but his goal is to do what needs to be done to give every student, regardless of any hardships, to be put on the road to academic success.

“We’re expanding and really thinking about all students,” Pruitt said. “How can we really give them a better early childhood experience? How can we ensure that students are getting opportunities, because right now, we’re not giving the same opportunities to every child. We know there are districts out there that are doing great things with kids that are ninety percent free and reduced lunch, ninety percent minority, and they do excel. I think part of it is expectation at our level.”

One of the biggest changes in the new system is giving local districts more control of how they teach their students, which in some ways, can put more pressure on local administrators and teachers to get it right.

“I’m a big believer in local control,” Pruitt said. “I think it’s time to take our classrooms back. We can’t continue to be dominated by tests all the time. The reality is the best test prep is just good instruction. In fact, if you do too much test prep, you might help a kid pass a test one year, but you’re going to be right back doing it the next year.

So, I think it’s time for our local school districts and schools to say we’re just going to teach and we’re going to do everything we can do to teach better, and to teach every child in their context, and i think we’re then trying to build that into the system. We are going to have an indicator that is locally developed, which, as far as I know, has never been done in Kentucky. I’m not sure it’s really been done anywhere,” Pruitt concluded.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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