Kentucky has again posted above-average reading results in the latest release from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the Nation’s Report Card.
This year, education officials are celebrating the inclusion of more special needs students than ever before.
The NAEP test gives a snapshot of 4th and 8th grade student performance in math and reading every two years. Kentucky has previously been criticized for excluding more students with special needs than schools the national average.
“The exclusion rates do have an impact on test scores, the more kids you exclude the higher your scores are going to be because most of the kids who are in that region of either being excluded or not being excluded are lower scoring students," said University of Virginia research professor David Grissmer, a member of the NAEP Validity Panel.
Kentucky is among seven states that will participate in a two-year pilot program to improve teacher training programs.
The initiative was developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers and will help states reform the systems that guide what an educator should look like.
Robert Brown, executive director of Kentucky’s Education Professional Standards Board, says the network of participating states will allow Kentucky to develop new initiatives based on best practices
“You have to look beyond your borders. Even though we know we’re on the right track and we’re doing well, are there practices that will inform our work that will make us even better.”
The council has made recommendations to guide the states over the next two years. Brown says Kentucky has already begun to improve how it prepares teachers but says the program will allow the state to align its expectations to recent education reforms.
Nearly half of Kentucky’s 173 school districts have increased local property tax rates as much as possible.
The moves come in light of education cuts at both the state and federal levels. Kentucky School Boards Association spokesman Brad Hughes told the Courier-Journal that “districts have no choice” but to turn to local taxpayers in order to find increased funding.
Eighty-one districts in the state have adopted tax rates that will increase revenue by 4 percent. Under Kentucky law, that’s the largest property taxes can be increased without being subject to voter recall.
School officials who have increased local property tax rates say they’re still coming out on the short end despite making the move. The Estill County School Board will see an additional $65,000 from a tax increase approved this year. But officials there are quick to point out that the district's primary state appropriation is down nearly $700,000 compared to 2009.
The presidents of Kentucky’s universities are meeting this week to discuss a higher education funding model that they will propose to the governor and state legislators.
When lawmakers convene the next General Assembly in January, they’ll be tasked with approving the state’s next two-year budget. WKU President Gary Ransdell says the proposal being offered up by the school presidents puts a great deal of emphasis on how many graduates the universities produce.
“The performance funding model will be based primarily on degree production," Ransdell told WKU Public Radio. "In other words, how many more degrees are you awarding over the last three years? It will be a three-year rolling measure of degree productivity. And that’s the primary driver of the performance funding model."
"In the final analysis, that’s what matters to the state: how many more graduates are you putting in the workplace to drive the economy?”
President Ransdell says the proposal by the school presidents also contains requests for capital project funding, with each university contributing a list of priorities it wants the state to support.
The school presidents meet Wednesday in Frankfort.
According to new data on state assessments, Kentucky students are making progress in basic subjects like reading and math. In the second year of the Unbridled Learning testing system, overall student performance showed improvement from 2012.
“The statewide data clearly show we are making progress, though slower than we would like,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday in a news release. “We’ve raised expectations and aligned them with what students need to be successful; we are moving in the right direction toward the goal of providing a world-class education for every Kentucky student and ensuring all children graduate college/career-ready,” he said.
Here are some of the scores within the WKU Public Radio listening area.
Bowling Green city schools rank Proficient with an overall district total of 60.0 out of 100 while Warren County schools are classified as Needing Improvement with a total score of 58.3
The Elizabethtown Independent school district gets the top ranking of Distinguished at 64.3 as the overall score while Hardin County schools come in at Proficient with a total ranking of 58.4.
Somerset Independent has an overall score 61.2, making the district Proficient while Pulaski County schools receive the top score of Distinguished at 64.9.
Another Distinguished school system is Daviess County with a district score of 63.9, while Owensboro city schools are ranked as Needing Improvement with a total ranking of 54.1.
You can see how every school system in the state fares, as well as scores for individual schools by clicking here.