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Kentucky Commissioner Wants to Move Away From School Rankings

Stephen Pruitt, Kentucky's commissioner of education, said this week that he doesn't want to rank the state's schools under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.  

Pruitt said that the model the state currently uses, which ranks schools and their districts by a percentile score, is oversimplistic and unfair. He instead wants to use a "dashboard" approach that lists how schools measure in several categories, such as chronic absenteeism or graduation rate, for example, allowing parents to draw their own conclusions.   

The new system needs to be "fair, reliable, easier to understand and more meaningful for kids," said Pruitt, who is touring the state to gather feedback on what the state's education accountability plan should look like under ESSA.   

Several states are considering using dashboard approaches for their next accountability system.

While using a dashboard will be permissable under ESSA, states must still rank their bottom 5 percent of schools. That means states still will have to have some sort of index in their new accountability system.  

California officials, who are at the tail end of building their next accountability system, are refusing to rank schools or identify the state's worst-performing schools. Officials there say that schools are too complex to come up with one number or grade to convey to parents how their students will be served. The U.S. Department of Education has yet to respond to a letter California officials sent describing their concerns. 

Critics of the dashboard approach, particularly school choice advocates, say poor and minority parents need a more direct way of drawing conclusions about the schools their children attend. 

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