Trimble parents told to expect lower test scores because of state changes
Thursday, October 25, 2012 11:00 AM
Parents should be aware that their children's test scores will be lower because of new testing procedures in the state, the Trimble County school board was told Wednesday.
Kentucky's new assessment and accountability system, called Unbridled Learning, goes into effect this year. New testing procedures will cause many students that were high achievers in past years to move to the proficient or lower percentiles, Trimble County Schools Instructional Supervisor Rebecca Moore told school board members during a special meeting Wednesday.
"There's a projection (that test scores) are going to be significantly different," Moore said.
School administrators across the state and Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday have been warning parents about the possibility of lower test scores that will be released on Nov. 2.
"Across the state, the numbers will show a marked decline," Holliday said in a press release. "The main reason is that previous testing was based on a 140-point scale, while this year's test is based on a 100-point scale."
The release said the new test scores will range from 0 to 100, allowing the public and parents to see a percentile that is more easily understood. All students and schools will be placed in one of three categories: "distinguished" for the 90th percentile and higher, "proficient" for the 70th to 89th percentile, and "needs improvement" for below the 70th percentile of students and schools.
"Most of the state is in the 70th percentile," Moore said. "It's quite a different scale."
Every tenth of a point could mean a major difference in percentile rankings between students and schools, she said.
The Kentucky Department of Education has been trying to prepare schools and parents for these low test scores, Trimble County Schools Superintendent Marcia Dunaway said, and the state department said the lower scores are legitimate. But these test scores shouldn't be an extreme worry to parents.
"This is setting the baseline," Dunaway said of the scores.
The new assessment and accountability system will align Kentucky with a national set of common core standards that have been adopted by nearly all of the states nationwide. Each elementary school in Kentucky will be evaluated on achievement, growth and gap, while middle schools will be evaluated on achievement, growth, gap and college/career readiness.
High schools will be evaluated on five different areas including achievement, growth, gap, college/career readiness and graduation rates. Schools will be expected to show improvement each year.
"The state will set the progress for us," Moore said. "Hopefully those goals will be more attainable (than previous state achievement goals)."
Moore warned that Trimble County High School will be listed as a "priority" school that needs improvement because of its low performance in past years. Even though the "Persistently Low-Achieving" title will no longer be used in the new assessment and accountability system, schools will remain on the "priority" list for three years after receiving the PLA designation.
The changes in test scores will serve as a point for schools and students to build upon for future years and have comparative scores for the future.
"There's just no way to compare to last year," Moore said.