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State Releases School Report Card Without Test Scores

school desks classroom
Photo by J. Tyler Franklin

October is typically the time the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) reports how well schools did on their standardized tests or K-PREP, from the prior spring. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, standardized tests were canceled.  And Wednesdaythe 2019-2020 Kentucky School Report Card went out without any K-PREP data.

"Students have been tested every year for as long as most people can remember," KDE chief data officer DeDe Connor told WFPL News. "And that data is how we determine how well every school is doing and compare schools from one school to another. And without that data, it does make it more difficult."

Schools spend all year gearing up for spring tests. Educators, policy makers, community members and parents use them to determine how well schools are teaching important knowledge and skills. The results carry consequences. Schools with low test scores can face reorganization and leadership changes.

This year, without test scores, schools aren't rated on the new 5-star rating system, nor does the report card contain bar charts showing the number of students who tested proficient or higher.  But data from prior years is still available. Connor said there are a few new data points the department has added.

The report card now shows "equity of teachers," including information about the experience level of teachers at each school and what percentage are working out of their field.

There's also trend data, which shows three years of data, and how well the school is tracking towards goals set by the state.

The report does include data from the English Language Proficiency exams and the kindergarten screener test, both of which were taken before schools closed in March.

Connor said the state is still planning on holding K-PREP this coming spring, despite the continued unfolding of the pandemic. State testing is mandated by federal law, and foregoing it requires approval from the U.S. Department of Education. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos granted states waivers from testing in 2020. She has signaled she may be unwilling to do so this spring.

Graduation Rates Tick Upwards

Kentucky's overall 4-year graduation rate ticked upward from 90.6% in 2019 to 90.9% in 2020, keeping the state above the national average of around 85%. Kentucky has one of the highest graduation rates in the nation.
In Jefferson County, the 4-year graduation rate moved up as well, from 82.3% to 83.5%.

Jess Clark is LPMs Education and Learning Reporter. Email Jess at jclark@lpm.org.