Op-ed: Tracking school performance critical to ensuring high quality education


Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Dave Adkisson

The following is an op-ed from Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Dave Adkisson about accountability in Kentucky schools.

Taking responsibility for our actions and making sure things get done the right way is critical to the success of any undertaking. In our society, we expect accountability across the board – from government to business to civic organizations to individuals – and we recognize how important it is that someone or some entity be answerable for action or inaction and outcomes.

Nowhere is that more important than in our schools, the foundation of the future we will build for individuals, communities and the state as a whole.

Accountability has been part of Kentucky’s education system for decades. It’s essentially a fundamental piece of the arrangement crafted years ago when Kentucky’s taxpayers supported more funding for schools with the expectation that they would receive regular, easy to understand information about how well the schools were performing.

Kentucky’s accountability system has grown more complicated through the years and, today, an effort is underway to rework it with the goal of greater simplicity and better ways to help schools that are not performing as well as they should be, especially when it comes to closing the gaps the persist between the academic achievement levels of different groups of students.

A new design for the system is still in the draft stage (Here is a link to a summary), town hall meetings are being held around the state and an online survey invites Kentuckians to share their opinions.

The Kentucky Chamber has been at the table during this process, and we hope the final product will give Kentuckians a truly transparent and understandable way to learn just how well our schools are performing. We encourage everyone to share their views by attending a town hall meeting and making comments, by completing the online survey or doing both.

Meanwhile, here’s a closer look at why accountability is so important.

By 2020, 57 percent of jobs in Kentucky will require a postsecondary degree or other certification. Currently, only 32 percent of adults in our state have such a credential. That means there is a 25 percent skills gap.

If we want Kentucky to be strong and successful in the future, we must prepare today’s young people for the workforce. To do that, we need to ensure that our K-12 public schools are giving all students the high-quality education they deserve.

One way we can connect all of our students with a great education is by evaluating how well our schools are serving them—and taking action if schools need support to better serve all their students. In this way, we can identify which schools are struggling and help students and teachers in those schools get the resources they need to make progress and succeed. This is what we mean by accountability.

All of us have a responsibility to ensure that our young people are ready to become tomorrow’s successful workforce—business and civic leaders, teachers, engineers and innovators. That is why it is important for all of us to make sure that our accountability system will lead to a better education for all students.

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