A number of problems in Fleming County were mentioned such as the recent resignation of a local school board member, the forthcoming resignation of superintendent Tom Price and an unfilled position of district finance officer, which has been vacant for some time. There was also a discussion of the problems found in a recent management performance audit in the Fleming County High School.
Curiously, however, something was missing – no one mentioned anything about how the district or the high school perform according to the Unbridled Learning school accountability program. It was as though the board wasn’t even interested.
Since Unbridled Learning is supposed to tell us how well Kentucky’s public schools perform, don’t you think the board should have at least been curious about Fleming County’s performance?
So, I decided to take a look. Here is part of the front page from the online Kentucky School Report Card for the Fleming County Public School District (get school report cards from pull down menus here).
I highlighted some interesting information in a red box.
Despite all of its problems – at least according to Unbridled Learning – the Fleming County School District made some rather remarkable improvement in its percentile ranking among all of Kentucky’s school districts between the 2011-12 and the 2012-13 school terms. The district went from well below state median to somewhere slightly above. Thus, Unbridled Learning says this system is on a notable upswing; but, no-one even mentioned that during the board meeting today.
Since the high school also came up, here is a section of the front page from Fleming County High’s latest school report card. Again, some key data is highlighted in a red box.
As I have been pointing out in a number of blogs since the early part of May (here here, here, and here), the high school’s progress is even more remarkable than the district’s progress overall. Fleming County High has been a “Proficient” school in Unbridled Learning for two years in a row and its percentile rank, already high in 2011-12, rose even more to the 87th Percentile among all Kentucky high schools in 2012-13.
So, according to Unbridled Learning, the high school is doing great, and getting even better.
Today, however, all we heard about was how the recent audit of the high school found the principal lacked what was needed to improve this school. If so, how did the Unbridled Learning rating for this school go up???
To be honest, the problems in Fleming County that the Kentucky Board of Education discussed today are serious issues.
But, how can the board just turn its back on its own state accountability system that isn’t identifying the sorts of issues mentioned in the management audits and today’s board meeting?
I have been concerned enough about Unbridled Learning to send a note to Kentucky Board of Education chair Roger Markum outlining the issues. I got the impression that the Unbridled Learning situation would be on today’s agenda, but it wasn’t listed.
I was not able to fully monitor everything the board discussed today, but I don’t think the disconnect between Unbridled Learning and what is really happening in at least some Kentucky schools ever came up. Maybe I just missed that discussion.
Or, maybe the board actually understands that Unbridled Learning isn’t reliably telling us what is going on in schools. Maybe that’s why no-one asked about how the school performed on the state’s official assessment program.
That’s a real problem, because parents cannot make intelligent decisions about schools when they are not getting the right information. And, that is true even when parents have a lot more school choices than Kentucky currently offers.