New 5-star accountability system launches

Kentucky Department of Education

Press Release

Media Contact: Jessica Fletcher

Chief Communications Officer

Office: (502) 564-2000, ext. 4611
Cell: (502) 229-1915

Advisory 19-146


October 1, 2019

New 5-star accountability system launches; little improvement shown overall

(FRANKFORT, KY) - After nearly four years of development following the December 2015 passage of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Kentucky’s new 5-star accountability system for public schools is now live. The system can be viewed in the form of an online dashboard on the Kentucky School Report Card, where reports for each school and district will show graphics displaying the overall identification of one to five stars, federal classifications, the performance on indicators (from very low to very high), and any statistically significant achievement gaps.

For the 2018-2019 school year, 89 schools (by level) received one star; 251 received two stars; 643 received three stars; 233 received 4 stars; and 56 received 5 stars. A breakdown of the schools’ star rating by level is as follows:

School Level

Total Number of Schools


































The star ratings and federal classifications are based on 2018-2019 K-PREP (Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress) assessment data and other indicators released today by the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE). The system does not rely solely on students’ proficiency on state standardized examinations. Instead, as recommended by the many stakeholders who have had a hand in designing the system during the past four years, the diverse accountability indicators factor into a school’s overall five-star rating include:

  • Reading and mathematics performance
  • Performance in social studies, science and writing
  • Students’ academic growth/progress over one academic year
  • Transition readiness (historically known as college and career readiness)
  • Graduation rate

“The release of accountability data through the Kentucky School Report Card is an opportunity for parents, educators and community leaders to engage in data-informed dialogue about schools’ and students’ strengths and areas for growth,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis. “The system also is designed to shine a light on achievement gaps between various groups of students. As usual, there are Kentucky schools and districts that are improving. We should celebrate their success and learn from their transformational approaches to teaching and learning. But the data also show that as a whole, our system is not yet ensuring each and every student – regardless of socioeconomic level, disability or race – is empowered and equipped to pursue a successful future.”

The following schools received 5-star ratings: 

  • Anchorage Independent Public School - Elementary
  • Anchorage Independent Public School - Middle
  • Barret Traditional Middle
  • Beechwood High School
  • Bell Central School Center - Middle
  • Blaine Elementary School - Middle
  • Boston School - Middle
  • Bush Elementary School
  • Carter City Elementary School
  • Corbin Intermediate - Elementary
  • Dupont Manual High
  • Farmington Elementary School
  • Flaherty Primary School
  • G R Hampton Elementary School
  • Gamaliel Elementary
  • Glenn O Swing Elementary
  • Greathouse/Shryock Traditional
  • Hacker Elementary School
  • Harlan Elementary School
  • Hazel Green Elementary School
  • Heath Elementary School
  • Hendron Lone Oak Elementary School
  • Heritage Elementary School
  • Hunter Hills Elementary School
  • Graham Brown School - Elementary
  • Graham Brown School - Middle
  • Jackson City School
  • Junction City Elementary School
  • Lone Oak Elementary School
  • Lowe Elementary
  • Lyon County Middle School
  • Marie Gatton Phillips Elementary
  • Mckee Elementary School
  • Model Laboratory High School
  • Moyer Elementary School
  • Murray High School
  • Murray Middle School
  • Norton Elementary
  • Pikeville High School
  • Reidland Elementary School
  • Rosa Parks Elementary School
  • Scapa At Bluegrass - Elementary
  • Scapa At Bluegrass - Middle
  • Shannon Johnson Elementary School
  • Southern Elementary School
  • Sublimity Elementary School
  • Tompkinsville Elem
  • Valley Elementary School - Elementary
  • Valley Elementary School - Middle
  • Viper Elementary School - Elementary
  • Viper Elementary School - Middle
  • W B Muncy Elementary School - Middle
  • W R Castle Memorial Elementary School
  • Walton-Verona High School
  • Whitley County East Elementary School
  • Woodfill Elementary School

“I offer sincere congratulations to our first 5-star rated schools,” said Lewis. “Being rated at the pinnacle of Kentucky’s school accountability system is no small feat, and comes only as a result of strategic leadership, hard work, and partnership.”

Under the new accountability system, a 5- or 4- star school’s rating can be lowered by one star if it has one or more statistically significant achievement gaps between the performances of groups of students. A total of 81 schools’ overall ratings were impacted by their achievement gaps – 16 otherwise 5-star schools were lowered to four stars, and 65 otherwise 4-star schools were lowered to three stars.

The majority of the schools that had star ratings lowered due to achievement gaps have work to do to ensure that students with disabilities are learning and performing at higher levels. Other schools whose ratings were lowered had significant achievement gaps between economically disadvantaged students and their wealthier peers, English learners and their native-English speaking peers, African American students and their white peers, Hispanic students and their white peers, and students with two or more races and their white peers.

“Kentucky’s new accountability system is built on the philosophy that a school or district cannot be rated as one of our very best schools unless it is ensuring that all groups of students, regardless of background, are learning at high levels,” said Lewis.

Student Growth

Student academic growth for several elementary and middle schools did see some gains on this year’s assessment results, according to Lewis. Growth is calculated by comparing a student’s K-PREP performance level on reading and mathematics (and English language proficiency for English Learners) from last year to this year. More than 200 elementary schools saw high growth, and 72 saw very high growth. For middle schools, 41 saw high growth and 26 saw very high growth (see table 12 of the Media Briefing Packet).

Commissioner Lewis is recognizing 20 Kentucky schools for extraordinary growth and academic progress on a first Commissioner’s List. Twenty schools have had at least a 10-point gain in proficiency from 2017-2018 to 2018-2019 and received a Very High label for the growth indicator (elementary/middle schools) or the transition indicator (high schools) in 2018-19.  Lewis will be presenting the principal of each school with a certificate for its growth progress in the coming weeks. The schools with the highest growth are:

  • Austin Tracy Elementary School (Barren County)
  • Blaine Elementary School-MS Level (Lawrence County)
  • Botts Elementary School (Menifee County)
  • Brooks Elementary School (Bullitt County)
  • Cochran Elementary (Jefferson County)
  • Fallsburg Elementary School-ES Level (Lawrence County)
  • Frakes School Center-ES Level (Bell County)
  • Frankfort High School (Frankfort Independent)
  • R. Hampton Elementary School (Knox County)
  • Garth Elementary School (Scott County)
  • Green County Middle School
  • Hacker Elementary School (Clay County)
  • Kentucky School For The Blind-ES Level
  • Leatherwood Elementary School-MS Level (Perry County)
  • Monroe County High School
  • Munfordville Elementary School-ES Level (Hart County)
  • Robinson Elementary School-ES Level (Perry County)
  • Squires Elementary School (Fayette County)
  • Viper Elementary School-ES Level (Perry County)
  • Westridge Elementary (Franklin County)

Reading and mathematics proficiency

Elementary assessment results released today show that since 2015, Novice reading and mathematics levels for elementary students have increased by almost a full percentage point (see table 21 of the Media Briefing Packet). Reading achievement gaps also are concerning. For white students, only 16.6% are scoring at the Novice level in reading, while 40.2% of African American students are at the Novice level (see table 22). For mathematics, there is a wide achievement gap between white students, of which 11.7% scored Novice, and African Americans, of which 32.4% scored Novice (see table 29).

“What is most concerning for me is far too many students, particularly economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities and students of color continue to perform at the Novice level on state assessments,” said Lewis. “Performing at the Novice level means students demonstrate little to no understanding of the academic content at grade level. That means 40.2% of African American elementary school students in Kentucky demonstrate little to no understanding of reading content at their grade level. Novice means academic emergency. These results are unacceptable, but wholly predictable. We cannot continue to use the same approaches we have always used with these students yet expect a different result.”

For middle schools, there was a slight improvement in Novice reduction in reading and mathematics, from 21.1% of students scoring at the Novice level in reading in 2015 to 19.5% this year; and from 16.1% of students scoring at the Novice level in mathematics in 2015, compared to 14.6% this year (see table 27). Achievement gaps in reading, however, remain wide between African American students (39.7% at Novice) and white students (16% at Novice), and for English learners (55.1% at Novice) (see table 28).

 “We must own our collective failure to move more students out of the Novice level,” said Lewis. “Again, this is a call to action for schools, districts, educators, parents, students, and community and business leaders to put meeting students’ needs above all else. The only question is whether we have the courage to answer that call.”

Proficiency in science, social studies and writing

For student assessments in science, social studies and writing, the percentages of students performing at the Novice levels increased for elementary students in all areas except science, where it dropped by .4% (table 21 of the Media Briefing Packet). In science, the majority of all student groups scored at the Apprentice level.

Middle school Novice rates in science remained mostly the same compared to last year, while a slight increase was seen in social studies novice rates and a large increase in novice rates for writing on-demand, from 14.4% in 2018 to 20.4% in 2019 (see table 27).

Transition Readiness

The Transition Readiness indicator gives students flexibility on how they demonstrate either academic or career readiness. This indicator also includes the attainment of English language proficiency for English learners on an exam that includes speaking, listening, reading and writing in English. The indicators include earning a high school diploma and meeting expectations for either academic or career readiness by meeting the benchmark scores on a college admissions exam or a college placement exam; earning a grade of C or higher on 6 hours of KDE-approved dual credit classes; scoring 3+ on two Advanced Placement classes; scoring 5+ on two International Baccalaureate classes; meeting benchmark scores on two or more Cambridge Advanced International exams; or completing a combination of the indicators.

To achieve career readiness, students must receive an industry certification approved by the Kentucky Workforce Innovation Board; scoring at or above the benchmark on the career and technical education end-of-program assessments for articulated credit; earning a grade of C or higher on 6 hours of career and technical education dual credit; completing a KDE/Labor Cabinet approved apprenticeship; or complete a KDE-approved method of demonstrating exceptional work experience.

The following table shows the transition readiness for schools in 2018-19.

 School Level 

 Total Number

 of Schools

 Very   Low




 Very   High 








“Transition readiness is one of the most important indicators for Kentucky’s high schools. It puts front and center our expectation that as students graduate from high school, they are well prepared for success in postsecondary education, training and the workforce. At the end of the day, Kentucky’s public education system is only successful if its graduates are successful after high school,” said Lewis.

Graduation Rate

Kentucky continues to post one of the nation’s highest graduation rates, with 90.6% of students earning their high school diploma in 4 years. Our continued challenge is eliminating gaps between student groups on this indicator, and ensuring that the Kentucky high school diploma is meaningful for students.

“While only three Kentucky high schools received a federal CSI classification, partially based on their lowered graduation rates, we must strive to ensure that all students – especially those in our most vulnerable populations – not only graduate, but have the skills they need to succeed in postsecondary education, training programs, and the workforce after high school,” said Lewis.

Federal Classifications

Under ESSA and Kentucky’s Senate Bill 1 (2017), the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) is required to annually identify schools for Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) when a school’s overall performance is within the bottom 5% of Kentucky public schools by level (elementary, middle, high school) and/or when a high school’s graduation rate is below 80%. Schools identified as CSI have additional responsibilities for school improvement, but this designation also makes them eligible for additional funding and resources to support their turnaround efforts. This is the only funding component that is tied to the accountability system; schools that receive higher ratings do not receive additional state or federal funding.

There were 50 schools classified as 2019-2020 CSI schools based on data from the 2018-19 school year, including:

  • Atkinson Academy (Jefferson County)
  • Breckinridge-Franklin Elementary (Jefferson County)
  • Byck Elementary (Jefferson County)
  • Cane Run Elementary (Jefferson County)
  • Coleridge-Taylor Montessori Elementary (Jefferson County)
  • Conway Middle (Jefferson County)
  • Cordia High School (Knott County)
  • Cordia Middle School (Knott County)
  • Doss High (Jefferson County)
  • Duff-Allen Central Elementary (Floyd County)
  • Emmalena Elementary School (Knott County)
  • Engelhard Elementary (Jefferson County)
  • Fairview Elementary School (Fairview Independent)
  • Fairview High School (Fairview Independent)
  • Frayser Elementary (Jefferson County)
  • Frederick Law Olmsted Academy North (Jefferson County)
  • Fulton County Elementary (Fulton County)
  • Fulton County Middle School (Fulton County)
  • Greenwood Elementary (Jefferson County)
  • Holmes Middle School (Covington Independent)
  • Iroquois High (Jefferson County)
  • Jacob Elementary (Jefferson County)
  • Kennedy Montessori Elementary (Jefferson County)
  • King Elementary (Jefferson County)
  • Knight Middle (Jefferson County)
  • Maupin Elementary (Jefferson County)
  • McFerran Preparatory Academy (Jefferson County)
  • Mill Creek Elementary (Jefferson County)
  • Minors Lane Elementary (Jefferson County)
  • Newburg Middle (Jefferson County)
  • Newport Intermediate School (Newport Independent)
  • Newport Primary School (Newport Independent)
  • Ninth District Elementary (Covington Independent)
  • Price Elementary (Jefferson County)
  • Rangeland Elementary (Jefferson County)
  • Rector A. Jones Middle School (Boone County)
  • Robert Frost Sixth-Grade Academy (Jefferson County)
  • Roosevelt-Perry Elementary (Jefferson County)
  • Shelby Traditional Academy (Jefferson County)
  • Stuart Academy (Jefferson County)
  • The Academy @ Shawnee (Jefferson County)
  • Thomas Jefferson Middle (Jefferson County)
  • Trunnell Elementary (Jefferson County)
  • Watson Lane Elementary (Jefferson County)
  • Wellington Elementary (Jefferson County)
  • West Point Elementary School (West Point Independent)
  • Western High (Jefferson County)
  • Wheatley Elementary (Jefferson County)
  • William Wells Brown Elementary (Fayette County)
  • Young Elementary (Jefferson County)

KDE also identified 11 schools for Additional Targeted Support and Improvement (ATSI), which means a school has one or more groups of students whose performance is at a very low level. Specifically, this year, schools have been designated as ATSI if last year it was designated as TSI-Tier II (targeted support and improvement) because one or more groups of students scored at or below students in any of the lowest-performing 5% of schools in the same grade band (elementary, middle or high schools), and it failed to meet the exit criteria for ATSI. Because new schools were not identified for ATSI this year, schools were permitted to exit the status is they made improvement on any of the indicators that led to their identification as TSI-Tier II in 2018.

The following schools have been designated as ATSI:

  • Butler County High School
  • Danville High School (Danville Independent)
  • Bryan Station Middle School (Fayette County)
  • Franklin County High School
  • Hancock County High School
  • Ballard High (Jefferson County)
  • Seneca High (Jefferson County)
  • Mary A. Goetz Elementary School (Ludlow Independent)
  • Owensboro High School (Owensboro Independent)
  • Union County High School
  • West Point Elementary School (West Point Independent)

Call to Action

Under Senate Bill 1 (2017), all schools are required to create an improvement plan based on their accountability results. Schools that have been designated as CSI must be audited by a turnaround team selected by the local board of education. The audit must include:

  • A diagnosis of the causes of a school’s low performance;
  • An assessment and recommendation to the superintendent regarding the principal’s capacity to function or develop as a turnaround specialist, including if the principal should be reassigned to a comparable position in the school district;
  • An assessment of the interaction and relationship between the superintendent, central office personnel and the school principal;
  • A recommendation of the steps the school may implement to launch and sustain a turnaround process; and,
  • A recommendation to the local board of education of the turnaround principles and strategies necessary for the superintendent to assist the school with turnaround.

Commissioner Lewis is also encouraging educators across the system to become intimately familiar with Kentucky’s new academic standards for reading, mathematics, writing, science and social studies, as these standards provide the framework for what students in Kentucky classrooms should be learning and what they will be assessed on at the end of the academic year.

“The implementation of new academic standards in Kentucky has been our most important work at KDE during my tenure as commissioner,” said Lewis. “Rigorous academic standards set the bar for where kids need to go and make a huge difference in a student’s learning. Teaching to the standards at grade level with standards-aligned, high quality curriculum and lesson plans will lead to significant improvement in student learning and assessment scores. Conversely, if students are not exposed to the standards at grade level, we cannot expect them to demonstrate mastery on state assessments.”