Thursday, August 4, 2011

Kentucky State Education Board and Department of Education inject a good weighting scheme for new assessments

Reversing a very contentious decision from the June meeting of the Kentucky Board of Education with Kentucky Department of Education staffers, a very weak plan for weighting various elements of the new Kentucky public school assessment program has been revised.

Now, the Kentucky School Boards Association reports the following weights will be used:

• 70 percent – “Next-Generation Learners” areas, which include test scores in reading, math, science, social studies and writing, achievement gap reductions, growth in the reading and math areas, students who meet college and career readiness targets and, for high schools, the graduation rate

• 20 percent – “Next-Generation Instructional Programs and Support,” which includes the program review results for subjects such as arts and humanities, practical living, world languages and additional writing areas

• 10 percent – “Next-Generation Professionals,” which includes effectiveness ratings for teachers and principals

Special interests, largely groups representing the arts and humanities and world languages teachers, swayed the board at its June meeting, resulting in a very unsatisfactory weighting scheme of 50/30/20. That would have provided far too much weight to the very subjective areas that will receive program reviews and staff reviews.

In sharp contrast, core academic subjects would have received far too little emphasis, a problem the board and the education department heard about after its June decision from many sources, including yours truly.

The fact that the board listened – and made these changes – is a hopeful sign for Kentucky’s new assessment program.

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