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Five Things You Didn't Know about Kentucky's K-PREP Exams

Posted by David Moadel

Jun 15, 2015 3:01:00 PM


 Back in 2009, the Kentucky General Assembly called for a new academic assessment system via Senate Bill 1 (SB 1). Thus was born a battery of standardized tests known as the Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP), which supplanted the Kentucky Core Content Test (KCCT) during the 2011-2012 school year. 

This was much more than a simple name change, and in fact represented a seismic shift throughout the state's education community. Alignment with the Common Core meant tougher standards and a deeper level of assessment, and K-PREP's ability to test the students was itself put to the test. 

Several years hence, it is still in effect in Kentucky's K-12 public schools and continues to shape statewide education, from broad policymaking to classroom-level instruction. Yet what do we really know about this new series of assessments that inform public education across the state of Kentucky? 

Here are five things you might not already know about KY’s K-PREP exams:

1. Pearson created KY’s state assessments.

When looking for a reputable large-scale standardized assessment provider, Kentucky settled upon educational mainstay Pearson. The Kentucky Department of Education states that Pearson was contracted to provide all K-PREP exams for grades 3 through 8 as well as writing on-demand exams for high school levels.

2. Testing methods use a blend of approaches.  

The tests are neither completely criterion-referenced (scored on a fixed scale with no comparisons made to other test takers' performances) nor norm-referenced (scored based on comparisons to other test takers' performances), but are instead a mixture of both.

This blended model aims to strike a balance between the two testing methods, thereby capturing the best of both worlds.  The norm-referenced component is a purchased test based on national norms, whereas the criterion-referenced component is customized specifically for Kentucky.

3. Alternate K-PREP for students with disabilities.  

In compliance with the Kentucky Alternate Assessment Program, which was developed in 1990 to provide fair assessment accommodations to students with moderate to significant disabilities, the Alternate K-PREP was brought to Kentucky public schools in 2011.

These alternate exams consist primarily of "Attainment Tasks," or "performance events that require students to complete a task, working step by step as directed by the teacher."

4. Computer-based and paper-and-pencil


The K-PREP does include some computer-based testing, though its implementation has not always been snag-free. In general, however, school districts have been granted a measure of leeway in choosing paper-and-pencil testing versus computer-based assessment.

Check out LearnBop’s brand new Technology Enhanced Items (TEI) to see what new computer-based item types will look like. Teachers can use these new items right now for free!



5. Can my child opt out?

Parents cannot opt out of the test.  It has been reported in recent months that Kentucy's Education Commissioner Terry Holliday informed school district superintendents that districts were not to honor parents' requests to opt out the assessments for their children. Moreover, students who do not participate in the state's assessment system will be given a score of zero.

The transition from the old KCCT to the newer K-PREP reflects a wave of change throughout the nation in how standardized testing looks and feels.  This ripple effect reaches well beyond Kentucky's borders as states continue to come to grips with stronger standards and augmented academic expectations.  

We hope this article was informative, and that you learned something you didn't know before. We'd love to hear from you in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

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About the Author


David Moadel is in his third decade working in education.  He has taught, mentored, and inspired students from elementary age through adult.  David has earned his master's degree in curriculum and instruction from the American College of Education, and is currently a certified teacher in Florida.  David enjoys teaching, writing, and utilizing technology tools to communicate with people with diverse viewpoints across the globe.


Topics: Implementing the Common Core, Resources, State News

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