Education
3:18 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Testing Waivers for Kentucky School Districts of Innovation Wins House Committee Approval

Credit sxc.hu

A bill that would modify student assessments in Kentucky public schools has unanimously cleared a House committee.

The measure would permit schools under the Kentucky Department of Education’s Districts of Innovation plan to implement new testing methods to assess student performance. 

The Distict of Innovation status relieves school districts of certain administrative regulations and statutory provisions as well as the ability to waive local board policy in an effort to improve student learning and educational performance.

Trigg County is one of the state’s Districts of Innovation.

Trigg Superintendent Travis Hamby says alternative assessments are no less rigorous than standardized paper and pencil tests, although implementing them will require more on the part of the teachers.

“That’s going to take some time and training and practice for our staff to be able to do that and it’s going to take more time for our teachers to prepare for those kinds of assessments," said Hamby. "But if this is going to be beneficial to our kids, I believe we have people committed to doing that.” 

Hamby says that, on the surface, getting a waiver seems like opting out of end of the year tests when in fact the school is looking to use something more comprehensive than the standard. 

"So we’re really thinking we can develop something that is more comprehensive and more robust than what our current system of assessment is," said Hamby. "What I think this house bill is going to do is not really take away the accountability but let us look at other kinds of assessment so that students are really having to show more to really demonstrate mastery, not just by a single test." 

The bill, filed by Louisville Representative Larry Clark, would permit District of Innovation schools to apply for waivers of current testing methods set forth by the innovation plan as long as they meet college and career-readiness requirements for students.

Seven school districts across the state participate in the plan, which was passed in 2012 by the General Assembly to give educators greater flexibility in turning around struggling schools. 

The bill now heads to the House floor.