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Ballard County Schools earns first-ever star ratings under new KDE accountability system
Ballard County Schools earned a 4-star rating at the high school, a 3-star rating at the middle school, and a 2-star rating at the elementary school in Kentucky's new 5-star accountability system for the 2018-19 school year. The new system is designed to focus attention on closing achievement gaps, and on six indicators in addition to state test scores.

A school or district could see its earned star level reduced by one star if it has one or more statistically significant achievement gaps (differences in academic achievement levels between specific groups of students).

“We’ll be drilling down into the details, but right now, we know that each school has some things to be proud of, and each school has some things to work on,” said Ballard Superintendent Dr. Casey Allen. “We’ll be identifying our areas that need improvement, and working on those throughout the year.”

Kentucky has been working with the U.S. Department of Education to align the new accountability system with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. The state’s new system took the Kentucky Department of Education four years to develop, and just was completed on Sept. 5, 2019. In addition to state test scores, the 5-star system uses six additional accountability indicators. 

As called for by the federal ESSA and Kentucky Senate Bill 1 (2017), schools are held accountable for student assessment results in all core subjects (reading, mathematics, science, social studies and writing), improving the English language proficiency of English learners, student growth in reading and mathematics at elementary and middle school, and graduation and transition readiness at high school. The final additional indicator, quality of school climate and safety, won’t be implemented until there is data from the current (2019-20) school year.

The star ratings will have no effect on funding for schools or districts. No funding will be withheld from schools or districts that do not rate highly; rather, schools performing in the bottom 5 percent will receive extra funding and support from KDE to help implement research-based strategies that will increase achievement for its students.

The 23-member panel convened by KDE included district and school administrators, teachers, members of the Kentucky Board of Education, parent representatives, and members of the business civil rights communities. The panel established performance descriptions for each of the indicators that helped them determine how schools would be classified. It also set cut scores for the star ratings that will be assigned to schools and for the six individual indicators that combine to determine the overall rating, all of which were approved by Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis.

There was no requirement for a specific percentage of schools to be at any star rating. For the 2018-19 school year, 89 schools received one star; 251 received two stars; 643 received three stars; 233 received four stars; and 56 received five stars. The ratings of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) stars are available on the Kentucky School Report Card website (kyschoolreportcard.com).

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