Friday, April 15, 2011

Transparency: Best-Practice, But Messy

This week, the Kentucky Board of Education approved, in a second reading, the first step toward a Next-Generation Accountability Model for Kentucky. The board approved the next-generation student learning components for the accountability model. For more information about the model, visit the Unbridled Learning page on the KDE website.

This major step did not come easily. Since the passage of 2009’s Senate Bill 1, KDE has been working very closely with stakeholders to develop the components of the accountability model. I am certain many stakeholders have felt frustrated or confused at least once during the process. While we are always concerned that there is confusion or frustration, it is our hope that stakeholders understand the need for transparency and two-way communication in the development of the accountability model.

The Kentucky Board of Education, through the Commissioner’s Office, utilizes advisory groups to gain feedback on major policy issues. For more information about these advisory groups, check out the recent edition of Kentucky Teacher.

Over the past 12-14 months, we have worked with each of these groups to gain feedback on the proposed accountability model. We have traveled to each educational cooperative on numerous occasions to present and gain feedback from superintendents, principals and teachers.

This process is messy. We would present components of the model one week and get feedback that led to changes the next week. Superintendents would then meet in state-level meetings, and there would be confusion about the latest version of the accountability model. In an attempt to ensure that all superintendents heard the same message at the same time, we moved to a monthly webinar to provide the latest updates and hear concerns from the field.

While the entire process has been very messy with lots of potential for communication gaps, we feel that stakeholder feedback and transparency will in the long run provide the best opportunity for successful implementation of the accountability model. With the KBE action this week, it appears that we are certainly on our way to successful implementation.

Thanks to all of our stakeholders for their patience as we build a system of accountability that will drive behaviors that help more children graduate from high school with the skills needed to be ready for college and careers.

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