It was another interesting week in Kentucky. Two years of hard work culminated in the release of the Council of Chief State School Officers’ (CCSSO’s) guiding principles for next-generation accountability models and the request by Gov. Steve Beshear that Kentucky be allowed to utilize the Kentucky next-generation accountability model as a replacement for the out-of-date No Child Left Behind (NCLB) accountability model.
These activities met with a lot of support from teachers and administrators. The activities also were met with some skepticism. One statement that surprised me was a concern from a legislator that we were premature in our request. So, this blog provides a little background on why we are pushing hard to get a waiver approved before the start of the 2011-12 school year.
In April of 2009, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) and Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) began working very diligently to implement 2009’s Senate Bill 1. This bill required new standards, new assessments, a new accountability model and support for teachers. The deadline was the 2011-12 school year.
We have met the deadline with standards in English/language arts and mathematics, with science and social studies to come online within the next 12 months. We have met the deadline for assessments and the deadline for the accountability model. Over the past two years, we have provided multiple opportunities for feedback from teachers, principals, superintendents, parents and partners. Our work has been guided by the state assessment and accountability council and the national technical advisory panel. The Kentucky Board of Education has held numerous work sessions to receive and provide guidance on the development of the accountability model.
The next-generation student learning component is ready to go and will be implemented in 2011-12. The next-generation instructional programs and support (Program Reviews) will be implemented in 2011-12, with results from the Program Reviews added to the accountability scores in 2012-13. Next-generation professionals (effective teachers and principals) will be added in 2013-14, dependent on a statewide validity and reliability study.
Parallel to our state work on accountability, CCSSO has been working on Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization and the guiding principles for reauthorization and next-generation accountability models. The Kentucky work informed the CCSSO work and vice-versa. We have been very clear in numerous blogs, Fast Five e-mails, KBE meetings and stakeholder presentations that our first priority was reauthorization of ESEA; however, if ESEA was not authorized, we would move forward with a waiver request to replace NCLB accountability with the Kentucky model.
The Kentucky model is built upon the key components of NCLB (proficiency, graduation rate and gap). The Kentucky model adds the key components of student longitudinal growth and college/career readiness. The Kentucky model also is very innovative in adding the non-tested areas like art, music, humanities, career studies, practical living and writing through Program Reviews. The Kentucky model is an innovative model that is balanced and more rigorous in expectations than the NCLB model.
The announcement last week by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan that he would entertain requests for waiver if Congress was not able to reauthorize ESEA gave us some sense of urgency. When CCSSO announced the release of the next-generation accountability model this week, we believed it was perfect timing for Kentucky to move forward.
In a nutshell – the following provide the basis for Kentucky moving forward with our waiver request:
* Senate Bill 1 required a new accountability model for 2011-12.
* The KBE has approved (after much feedback and discussion) the next-generation accountability model.
* Kentucky educators overwhelmingly support having one accountability model, rather than having both state accountability and national accountability models. Having two accountability models has been very confusing.
* Moving to the Senate Bill 1 accountability model will focus our work in Kentucky on preparing students for college and careers in addition to current focus of NCLB (proficiency and gaps).
Educators need to know the rules of the game (accountability) prior to the start of the game (beginning of school year).
* The federal NCLB law is clear that states may propose waiver requests. By being early in the process, Kentucky can propose components that make sense in this state, rather than having the U.S. Department of Education establish rigid guidelines.
In March 2010, Kentucky became the first state to adopt the Common Core Standards. The same critics came out then and said our decision was premature and risky. Since that time, 44 states have joined Kentucky in adopting the standards. The same critics have surfaced over the accountability model. They say Kentucky is being premature, and our actions are risky. This week, CCSSO announced that 41 states support the guiding principles upon which the Kentucky model was built.
The eyes of the nation are certainly on Kentucky; however, the topic of interest to me is the goal of increasing the percentage of college/career-ready graduates from 34 percent to 67 percent by 2015. Over the coming weeks, I will be asking our partners and educators across Kentucky to express their support of the next-generation accountability model. It is time for us to present a position of strength. We need to prepare our children for the jobs of the future, and the Kentucky accountability model will do just that.