Kentucky’s SCAAC receives updates on state assessments and accountability

(FRANKFORT, KY) – Members of the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE) School Curriculum, Assessment and Accountability Council received assessment and accountability updates from department leadership during a March 16 virtual meeting.

On Feb. 22, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced it will require states to administer a statewide assessment for the 2020-2021 school year, said Associate Commissioner Rhonda Sims of KDE’s Office of Assessment and Accountability.

The decision came after many states had requested a waiver of the testing requirement due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead of canceling the test, USED advised states to pursue other assessment flexibilities, including administering a shortened version of the statewide assessment and offering flexible testing windows, both of which KDE prepared for in anticipation of the USED decision.

On Feb. 15, a week before the USED decision, KDE released two COVID-19 guidance documents to assist districts in preparing to administer spring testing, "COVID-19 Participation in Spring 2021 Kentucky State Testing" and "Kentucky Summative Assessment Administration Guidance 2020-2021 School Year." Both have been updated to include the most recent federal guidance.

Education Commissioner Jason E. Glass acknowledged that other states have postponed assessments until the fall of 2021. While he said he understands the thought process behind these decisions, he believes waiting for the fall is not necessary for the data to be used for instructional purposes.

“Let’s just go ahead, get it done and get the results back and see how those can be used,” he said, adding that KDE has looked into the possibility of schools substituting local formative assessments for the state assessment.

“I’m not optimistic about that, so we’re going to stay the course for now,” Glass said.

While assessments still will occur, USED offered flexibility for accountability and for identifying schools for Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI), Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) and Additional Targeted Support and Improvement (ATSI) based on data from the 2020-2021 school year.

Kelly Foster, associate commissioner in KDE’s Office of Continuous Improvement and Support, said the department hopes to submit a waiver template to USED within the next week that will grant flexibility in identifying ATSI and CSI schools.

“In that waiver template, we are requesting that CSI schools and ATSI schools not be identified until the fall of 2022,” said Foster.

TSI schools, on the other hand, will require an additional waiver. Kentucky only labels TSI schools when it has three consecutive years of testing data. In the spring of 2020, the state received a waiver from federal testing and accountability requirements, which also waived the requirements for the identifying of federal classifications – including TSI – in the fall of 2020.

Kentucky cannot identify schools for TSI status in the fall of 2022 because it will not have three consecutive years of accountability data.

“USED has assured me that we would be able to ask for additional time through another waiver process once we get through the one we will be sending in the next week,” said Foster.

While the department is excited for the flexibilities Kentucky has received, KDE would have liked to have seen more regarding public reporting, said Jennifer Stafford, director of KDE’s Division of Assessment and Accountability Support.

USED has maintained that it will require the public reporting of all data normally required on state and local School Report Cards, including the information and data on spring 2021 assessments.

“We will have to report the students who are assessed this year … specifically in two areas: performance and participation,” explained Stafford.

SCAAC Chair Nathan Bruins, who is a social studies teacher at Great Crossing High School (Scott County), said that around 20% of his school’s student population has remained in a virtual setting. Based on surveys KDE has sent to schools, Stafford said there are other schools in the Commonwealth where that percentage of virtual students could be as high as 70%.

Stafford said KDE will make a concerted effort to caution those who are examining the data about which student populations tested and which did not so that the data is not misinterpreted.

Integrating Social, Emotional and Academic Development within the Kentucky Academic Standards for Mathematics

Maggie Doyle and Erin Chavez, academic program consultants from KDE’s Office of Teaching and Learning, met with the council to discuss a new resource for mathematics teachers in Kentucky.

The tool, “Integrating Social, Emotional and Academic Development (SEAD) within the Kentucky Academic Standards (KAS) for Mathematics,” is designed for educators to use when planning mathematics instruction to meet the needs of all learners.

For each grade level, the resource contains:

  • Connections between the five social and emotional competencies established by the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning and the expectations set forth within the KAS for Mathematics, specifically the Standards for Mathematical Practices;
  • Design considerations and specific examples of what integrating social, emotional and academic development might look like within each specific grade level;
  • Questions to empower teachers to reflect on ways to integrate social, emotional and academic development within effective mathematics instruction; and
  • Questions teachers can use with students to encourage the development of social and emotional competencies while also engaging students with the Standards for Mathematical Practices.

A reflection sheet is provided to support educators in processing new learning and reflecting on instructional implications. Facilitation considerations guidance also is provided to support those facilitating a learning experience around integrating social, emotional and academic development within the KAS for Mathematics at the local level, and an overview video is available as an orientation to all the components.

Prior to the meeting, all feedback received on the resource was overwhelmingly positive, Doyle said. It has been reviewed by numerous national partners and has received positive feedback from multiple educators across Kentucky and other states, including more than 90 Kentucky principals.

When presenting the tool to educators, Pikeville Independent Superintendent David Trimble said it is important for school and district administrators to specify that this resource is not a mandate or in law, but rather professional learning guidance involving social, emotional and academic development.

“What we say in our schools matters,” he said. “If it is felt as some obligation, it won’t work. … I see this as a way that we can approach things that are really important and just have a nice guide to have that conversation.”

Doyle said the department hopes to provide resources to support relationships and community building in other content areas as a part of the fall professional learning series within the Office of Teaching and Learning.

In other business, the SCACC supported:

  • An amendment to 703 KAR 5:240, Accountability Administrative Procedures and Guidelines. After a federal audit last summer, this amendment strikes “extraordinary circumstances” from the regulation as a type of exemption. The medical exemption will remain and be expanded to fit more of the exemptions that previously would have been identified as an extraordinary circumstance; and
  • An amendment to 703 KAR 5:070, Inclusion of Special Populations in the State-Required Assessment and Accountability Programs. This amendment is the culmination of cross-agency work to clean up the regulation’s language and increase the overall readability, as well as to ensure compliance with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.



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