The Kentucky Department of Education will add a major element to its accountability system in the 2014-2015 school year that wasn’t included with the latest round of results released on Friday.
Program Reviews are part of Kentucky’s education reforms—they just haven’t been measured yet. When released, the reviews will measure a school’s arts and humanities, practical living/career studies and writing programs.
“It’s not designed to look at one course, but to look and see how do you deliver your arts and humanities program throughout the whole school,” says Ken Draut, director of KDE’s assessment and accountability department.
Next month—for the first time—the education department will release these results for individual schools. Beginning next schools year, they will count for 23 percent of schools' accountability scores, Draut says.
The reviews will serve as an alternative to traditional testing and is seen as a change from simply measuring student test scores and academic achievements.
“It could be after school programs, it could be the senior play going on. All of those are taken into account. It’s not just a single course look at a school,” Draut says.
Schools must submit evidence of their programs’ success, which will be followed by state audits and will then be weighted into the state’s Unbridled Learning accountability system.
“It's our effort to try to move to a balanced system, that we appreciate everything, a balanced curriculum. Just focusing on math and language arts, while important, that's not going to get kids as ready for college and careers as focusing on the whole curriculum,” Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday says.
Program Reviews were part of Kentucky’s education reforms, but they haven’t been implemented until this year. Draut says first year results will be released in a few weeks and will set the baseline for when they actually count for a school’s accountability next year.
“There is some subjectivity to it, but it is also driven by an evidence based process,” he says.
“I have an audit process on the end that we’ll actually be auditing certain schools to take a look at their ratings and then what outside raters will say.”
This may assist schools that offer high quality arts or other programs, but whose scores are below average, Holiday says.
“We think it'll help some schools and we think those that focus just on test scores that might not help them,” he says.