Friday, April 23, 2010

Vision for Education Reform in Kentucky

Governor Beshear will soon be appointing up to seven new members for the Kentucky Board of Education. The Governor also has appointed a Transforming Education in Kentucky (TEK) Task Force to make recommendations prior to the 2011 legislative session. Also, KDE is working hard to implement 2009’s Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), which requires a new accountability system, internationally benchmarked standards, formative and diagnostic assessments, student growth measures, and numerous other far-reaching initiatives.

I have started the process of engaging all advisory councils in the dialogue concerning a new accountability system and strategic plan for the Kentucky Board of Education. The board will hold a strategic retreat prior to its June meeting. The following information is a summary of what I have been proposing to our advisory groups and will provide to the board as a guide for the development of a revised accountability system and strategic plan.

The key to our success in transforming education in Kentucky will reside in our ability to focus on a few goals with a few strategies that are done with precision and fidelity. These few goals will focus on the vision of every child proficient and prepared for success. This vision will be measured by indicators of proficiency, growth and closing gaps among student groups.

Proficiency will be measured by the cohort graduation rate and our comparative position among states. Growth will be measured by the increases in our annual percentage of high school graduates who are prepared for college and career as compared against other states. Closing gaps will be measured by the decreases in gaps for the graduation and readiness rates among student groups in Kentucky as compared against other states.

The ultimate measure for the vision of Kentucky education will be informed by the following measures:
- National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Proficiency, Growth and Gap rates – 4th- and 8th-grade reading and mathematics
- Educational Planning and Assessment System (EPAS) Proficiency, Growth and Gap rates – 8th-grade EXPLORE, 10th-grade PLAN and 11th-grade ACT

The Kentucky Board of Education will set biannual goals for each of the measures to reach and maintain a top 20 in the nation ranking.

There will be four strategic priorities with specific strategies and annual indicators of progress. These priorities, strategies and indicators are based on federal guidance provided by Race to the Top, State Fiscal Stabilization Funds and proposed reauthorization of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Also, the priorities, strategies and indicators are based on state guidance provided by SB 1 (2009), SB 168 (2002), SB 130 (2006) and other state statutes. The priorities are Next Generation Learners, Next Generation Professionals, Next Generation Support Systems and Next Generation Schools and Districts.

Comments and suggestions concerning this vision for the new accountability system are very much appreciated. We will have community forums and focus groups as part of the Governor’s TEK Task Force in August, and all advisory councils (parents, teachers, business, superintendents, principals, students and others) will have opportunity for input.

Our board has a vision of ALL children proficient and prepared for success. While visions are great, they have no meaning unless you have measures and accountability for those.


  1. Dr. Holliday,

    I agree that the NAEP and EPAS are important, but it is also critical to understand the limitations each presents for drawing valid conclusions from state-to-state comparisons.

    You highlight one issue for the EPAS system, but the NAEP also presents many challenges.

    For one thing, due to Kentucky’s remarkably stable student demographics in the past two decades compared to other states, Kentuckians can easy to get lulled into an unwarranted sense of complacency when we simplistically compare overall average NAEP scores for Kentucky to other states.

    The reason is that many other states have been experiencing upheavals in their student populations involving large influxes of lower scoring students who do not speak English as their primary language.

    In California, for example, there was a student demographics Tsunami after NAEP state-level testing started in 1990. Then, California’s NAEP samples were about 51% white and 27% Hispanic. Now, that state’s NAEP samples run only around 28% white. The majority population is now Hispanic, and many of those are English language learners.

    Thus, it would be very misleading to conclude that Kentucky is doing a much better job than California based only on a simple examination of the overall average NAEP scores.

    The truth is far less flattering for Kentucky when you look at score disaggregations that allow some degree of correction for the huge demographic differences in the two states’ student bodies.

    For more on this, a fairly short, but readable, Wiki item on the NAEP and some of the interpretation pitfalls is available here:

    In this Wiki item you can learn how conclusions about Kentucky’ performance versus other states based on simplistic analysis of the overall average NAEP scores sometimes totally reverse once the data is more carefully considered.

  2. Thanks Dick for the comment. We hope to have an equal focus on proficiency, growth and closing gaps for both the NAEP and EPAS measures. As we build the model, we appreciate any stratistical proposals for the model. NAEP and EPAS would serve primarily as national comparisons. NAEP will also soon have international comparisons. EPAS also provides us with national comparisons but we have to be careful with analysis since KY tests 100% of 8th, 10th and 11th. Our ultimate measure of vision is percentage of gradutes who are college/career ready