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Kentucky Education Department Prepares to Release Alternative Schools Data

The Kentucky Department of Education is planning to release data next month on the state’s alternative schools for the first time as they look to improve transparency and accountability for the population the schools serve.

Over 70,000 students are estimated to attend alternative programs in the state (which could include duplicate student numbers),  many of which are in specialized schools that range in services and purposes. KDE has not adequately tracked student data and Education Commissioner Terry Holliday has said the state wants to improve the way it tracks alternative school students. Holliday has told WFPLthe education department is working on policy changes that would help improve oversight, management and tracking of alternative schools.  Further, he acknowledged in an interview with CN2 that once data is considered there may be some schools that will need to be overhauled. When a student at an alternative school takes a standardized test, the results follow that student back to their traditional school when they leave, according to KDE officials. The alternative schools are given results for their students, but the department has never publicly released that information. KDE officials say the data has been used to determine best practices, but the department wants to improve the system further. Now KDE has tentatively scheduled to release standardized testing data for its alternative schools in mid-to-late February. But because schools’ services and purposes vary widely, officials are warning that the data should be considered carefully, and they say it would be inappropriate to compare all alternative schools against each other. Some schools have students with mental health issues or abuse issues, other students might not have a learning style that fits the traditional education environment and all schools might not have the same goals, which makes it difficult for KDE to assess.