As I write this, testing with the new Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP) program is under way in the state’s public schools. K-PREP is completely different from the past CATS program and its Kentucky Core Content Tests, and those differences have generated a lot of questions, and not a little confusion, among both education professionals and parents.
In an attempt to clarify what is, and is not, in K-PREP, Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday and his staff put together a 28-minute video that overviews the new program and deals with some of the more commonly raised questions about how K-PREP is going to operate.
You can view this video by clicking here.
A few key points:
While lots of student subgroup scores are going to be available, school accountability is now based only on one, overall final score. That final score comes from averaging scores from five different areas including:
• College & Career Readiness (ACT’s EXPLORE and ACT tests – for middle and high schools only),
• Graduation Rates (high schools only),
• Proficiency Rates on new K-PREP academic tests,
• Achievement Gap Reduction (but only an overall average for all student subgroups) and
• Score Growth each year.
K-PREP introduces new tests that are supposed to be focused on college and career education. These tests will be much more appropriate and demanding than the now defunct Kentucky Core Content Tests’ focus.
Graduation rates will receive more emphasis, too.
And, the very worthwhile tests from the ACT, Incorporated continue in use with more weighting in the school accountability index than before.
There are concerns about the emphasis placed on minority students, which will be different from the now waived requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). However, scores will continue to be reported for student subgroups, so if problems arise in this area, at least the problems won’t remain hidden as they did under the old CATS system prior to NCLB coming along.
Also, not mentioned in the video, there is supposed to be a penalty for schools where a minority population scores dramatically lower than the overall state average. The process to determine this gets a bit technical. It relies on standard, well-accepted statistical analysis techniques using ‘standard deviations.’ This score analysis will flag student subgroup scores that are more than three standard deviations below the norm for all students (you may hear this discussed as the “3-Sigma Rule,” based on the use of the Greek letter Sigma as a symbol for standard deviation).
Overall, we really won’t know how well all of this works until after we get a couple of years of data from the new K-PREP. I think K-PREP is going to be much better than CATS, but only time will really tell.