LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Kentucky Department of Education has released the annual School Report Card for the 2020-2021 school year.
The statewide testing was completed in the spring of the last school year, despite a very different school year for Kentucky students. Many schools across the Commonwealth completed at least some of the school year virtually.
“We knew these results would not be what we wanted to see, but the previous school years saw extreme challenges,” said KDE Commissioner Jason Glass.
Education officials say the 2020-2021 statewide testing was intended to better understand how students tested during COVID-19 learning disruptions. More than 329,000 students from elementary, middle school, and high school were tested in reading, math, science, and writing on-demand.
According to data from the Department of Education, many schools had less than 50% of their students scoring at “Proficient” or “Distinguished.”
“The scores do not give us a lot of information beyond highlighting some of the concerns we’ve already known from previous data,” said Fayette County Superintendent Dr. Demetrus Liggins. “We are always hesitant to put a heavy emphasis on any one test on any one day, but even more so this year due to the circumstances surrounding the assessment.”
KDE echoed the same idea.
In a press release, they said:
“Kentucky administers state tests called the Kentucky Summative Assessment (KSA), previously called the Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP). The tests were developed by Kentucky teachers and align with the Kentucky Academic Standards. Spring 2021 testing, for the first time, was based on all new standards.
Due to COVID-19, students faced learning disruptions, changes in the opportunities to learn, lower participation rates, and a shortened assessment in 2021. Because of these challenges, you cannot make direct comparisons of assessment data from prior years.”
Since the pandemic affected many aspects of education in the past school year, the state Education Department received a waiver from federal accountability. As a result, school accountability indicators and ratings weren't part of the 2020-2021 reporting.
Full statement from Superintendent Demetrus Liggins:
“It is well documented that the COVID-19 pandemic caused significant disruption to our families, schools, and the educational attainment of our students. The results from state and national tests taken by some of our students last spring and made public just after midnight today by the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) again underscore this conclusion.
However, the scores do not give us a lot of information beyond highlighting some of the concerns we’ve already known from previous data. We are always hesitant to put a heavy emphasis on any one test on any one day, but even more so this year due to the circumstances surrounding the assessment.
Not only were students tested just weeks after returning to in-person learning on the heels of nearly a year at home, but they also took a newly written test, covering different standards, administered on a computer for the first time.
Additionally, the test was not required, so participation rates were significantly lower than in previous years. Roughly 15 percent of elementary students, about a quarter of middle schoolers, and nearly 40 percent of high school students did not take the tests.
Despite these barriers, we are pleased to note that on average, students in FCPS out-performed the state average in every subject area at the elementary, middle, and high school level on the new Kentucky Summative Assessment, as well as the ACT – a college entrance test used to gauge college readiness. Achievement disparities between students of different races, family income levels, home languages, and individual educational needs remain a source of significant concern.
In addition to the academic offerings during our Summer Ignite program, since returning to school this fall, every student has been assessed to see where they are and what supports they need to master grade-level content. Teachers have developed instructional plans for each student based on individual strengths and areas of growth and are regularly monitoring their progress throughout the school year.
A total of $28 million in federal pandemic relief money has been allocated directly to each school in Fayette County so leaders and teachers in every building could determine what supports their students need. Each school developed a customized plan to ensure students are receiving more individual instructional time and attention than ever possible before.
We know our students learn best when they attend school in-person and we are committed to keeping our students on campus as much as possible this school year. The pandemic continues to present operational challenges, but we will not allow COVID-19 to keep us from finding creative and innovative ways to impact student outcomes.
We are not using results from a single assessment with limited student participation after an extremely trying school year to drive instructional decision-making for students. Instead, we encourage families to reach out to their child’s teacher and work together to ensure students get the supports they need to make progress this school year and beyond.”