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Kentucky's State Schools Rankings Come Out Friday, But This Year They'll Include 'Program Reviews'

The state Education Department on Friday releases its annual accountability data rating Kentucky schools and districts, but this year's batch will be somewhat different.

This will be the third data release under Kentucky’s new accountability system—called Unbridled Learning—that was created through a 2009 law. (You can search last year's data here.)The ratings were always based on a number of factors. A major part of how schools are rated is based on student test scores and how well student groups perform, but this year "program reviews" will count for 23 percent of a school’s rating.Those reviews are of arts and humanities, practical living and writing programs are suppose to counter high-stakes test data and access the quality of these programs.They have the potential to lift a school's score high enough to a receive a better label and possibly away or out of state intervention.“It provides a balanced system, not to look at just testing, but to look at all the other areas that are not tested,” Education Commissioner Terry Hollidaytold WFPL last year.Even though schools will self-score their own programs, there will still be oversight, said Rhonda Sims with KDE's Office of Assessment and Accountability. “It’s the district that submits the data after that review. Also, we will be looking at the state level and we’ll be conducting some audits of that data," she said.What else goes into the Unbridled Learning accountability systemAlong with program reviews, which will make up 23 percent of the final school's score, five other areas will carry certain weights depending on the grade levels: elementary, middle and high.

  • Achievement – student performance on subject-area tests
  • Gap – gaps in academic performance among students who are ethnic minorities, have disabilities, are English language learners or come from low-income households and students who do not fit into those categories
  • Growth – student academic growth in reading and mathematics
  • College/Career Readiness – how well schools and districts prepare students for life after high school
  • Graduation Rate – how many students graduate on time

How JCPS fared last yearJefferson County Public Schools showed overall improvement in last year's data release. The school district met its goal as a whole, but still trailed most school districts across the state.

  • JCPS moved from the 23rd to the 32nd percentile (meaning 68 percent of Kentucky school districts scored better than Jefferson County.) 
  • 13 of 18 "priority" schools (previously called persistently low-achieving) met their goals for the year.
  • Reading proficiency went up across the board as well, although less than half of elementary school students were reading at grade level.
  • JCPS middle schools had the greatest gaps and all five priority schools that didn't meet their objectives were all middle schools.

To see how your school district or school performed you can visit us on Friday.