Sunday, December 24, 2000

Ky. expands report cards

By Lori Hayes
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Improved school report cards will land in the mailboxes of Kentucky parents in January.

        With more details on test scores, school safety and teacher qualifications, the report cards are aimed at getting more information to parents about their children's schools.

        “It's a resume for schools,” said Kenton County Schools Superintendent Susan Cook.

        “It's an opportunity for each school to be able to share some basic information about the school with parents, but also to educate the parents about the continuous progress that the school is making and the planning that's involved at every school.”

        The report cards must be sent to every student's home by Jan. 15.

        This is the second year schools have been required to compile the report cards. Since last year's test run, the cards have been revised.

        They still include numbers and information on test scores, school safety, school spending, parent involvement, special programs and honors or recognition the school has received.

        Details on schools' performance on state tests, such as the number of students who scored novice, apprentice, proficient or distinguished, have been added.

        Included is a short narrative on what the school is doing to ensure equity for all students, how teachers use technology in instruction and what policies are in place for weapons and drugs.

        “That'll give people a better idea of what's going on,” said Jay Roberts, a program consultant with the Kentucky Department of Education, who is overseeing the report cards. “The narratives are a great part of the cards because it gives schools a chance to tell their own story.”

        The cards will also have more information on teachers, including the percentage of classes taught by teachers who are certified for the subject and grade and the percentage of classes taught by teachers who had training in their subject area in the past year.

        “This is a great research tool. We've never had that kind of information before,” Mr. Roberts said.

        Coleen Dean, who has a daughter at Dayton High School, said the report cards are valuable. She's combed through the information on Dayton's first report card and looks forward to this year's additions.

        “The parents need to be more aware of what the cards are saying,” she said. “You find out a lot.”

        The format and content of the cards are mandated by the state; however, there will be no consequences this year for incomplete cards, Mr. Roberts said. That will come next year, after state regulations are approved.

        In addition to what's mailed to parents, schools compile an expanded report card. That 100-plus-page document includes data on class size, advanced placement, gifted and special education programs and plans for helping students with academic or behavioral problems.


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