FILE — School bus

(The Center Square) – Kentucky parents and taxpayers received some information about their schools this week when the state released annual school report cards, but not nearly as much as they had in the past.

Because of ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, Kentucky, as have many other states, did not conduct statewide testing in the spring, leaving the report cards without test data for students.

“Though there is limited data available, we hope this information will be useful to start conversations between schools, families and community members about how to ensure all of our students are receiving a high-quality education,” Kentucky Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass said. “We know there still is a lot of work to be done. The Kentucky Department of Education is here to work alongside our districts to provide the supports they need as they continue focusing on student achievement.”

Also, high school juniors across the state were scheduled to take the ACT but most didn’t and will not until distance learning ends.

All that leaves the state without key indicators, according to the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions. Missing achievement gap information and reporting accountability results for each school lowers the level of usefulness of the report, Richard G. Innes, staff education analyst for the institute, said.

“This means the 2019-20 Kentucky school report cards provide very little idea about how the Bluegrass State’s schools performed in 2019-20, including impacts of COVID-19. The 2020 school report cards are not going to be very useful,” Innes said.

Star ratings do not apply for the 2019-20 school year and federal classifications will not be determined. Schools will hold their classifications from the previous year, according to a news release from the education department.

At the same time, school financial information from last year likely won’t be available until the spring, Innes said.

“There is already a movement afoot to try to cancel state testing next spring, as well. The Bluegrass Institute believes canceling tests two years in a row would be a really bad idea,” Innes said. “It would extend our lack of understanding of the true impacts of COVID-19 for another full school term, which might impede us from taking more informed action to improve the COVID-19 impacted situation, which at present is not well-understood at all.

“While comparing the 2020-21 testing results to prior years might be challenging, failing to even try to collect this date would be a very poor decision for our students.”

Regional Editor

An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.