Parents Guide to Unbridled Learning

During the next few days our schools and the news media will be talking about the results of Kentucky’s Unbridled Learning Assessment and Accountability system.  To help parents better understand what Unbridled Learning is, the components of Unbridled Learning, and how the scores are determined, we have put together a few helpful facts below.   Complete information about Unbridled Learning is available for in-depth review on the Kentucky Department of Education’s website at

Kentucky schools and districts are held to high standards for educating children. Accountability is the way we measure their effectiveness –how well they are doing. It also serves as the basis for identifying those schools or districts that may need support to reach their goals.  Kentucky’s system is called Unbridled Learning.

Kentucky’s Unbridled Learning system is based on multiple measures of school effectiveness. The measures fall into three major categories – Next-Generation Learners, Next-Generation Instructional Programs and Support, and Next-Generation Professionals.

Next-GenerationLearners(introduced in 2011-12) Next-Generation InstructionalPrograms and Support(introduced in 2012-13) Next-Generation Professionals(included 2014-15 reports but not calculated in accountability)

Graduation Rate

College/Career Readiness

Program Reviews :·  Arts and Humanities·  Practical Living/Career Studies

·  Writing


A K-3 Program Review will be added in 2013-14, and a World Language Program Review will be added in 2015-16.

Effective TeachersEffective Leaders(data based on Kentucky’s Professional Growth and Effectiveness System)


This year, as in the past, public schools and districts earned points, on a scale of 0 to 100, based on how well they did on the five Next-Generation Learner components:

  • Achievement – student performance on tests in reading, mathematics, science, social studies and writing (science is not part of accountability at the elementary and middle school levels in 2014-15)
  • Gap – performance (percentage of proficient and distinguished) of students who are members of traditionally underperforming groups (ethnic minorities, special education, poverty and limited English proficiency) compared to the goal of 100 percent proficiency in all subject areas
  • Growth – individual student’s score compared to the student’s academic peers to determine if typical or higher levels of growth have occurred in reading and mathematics
  • College/Career-Readiness – high school graduates who successfully meet an indicator of readiness for college and/or careers
  • Graduation Rate – the percentage of on-time graduates as measured by a Four-Year Adjusted Cohort Formula

In the area of Next-Generation Instructional Programs and Support, schools receive points (on a scale of 0-12) for Program Reviews in Arts and Humanities, Practical Living and Career Studies and Writing. This year for the first time, Kindergarten-3 (K-3) Program Review scores are included for elementary schools, where applicable.

Mandated by Senate Bill 1 in 2009, Program Reviews are an ongoing, year-round process where school personnel assess the characteristics of an instructional program on four standards: Curriculum/Instruction, Formative/Summative Assessment, Professional Development and Administrative/Leadership. Program Reviews are designed to ensure schools offer quality learning opportunities in each of the program areas.

Schools are rank-ordered by overall score and by level – elementary, middle or high. Districts are rank ordered without dividing by level. Based on their percentile rankings, schools and districts are placed in one of three classifications:

  • Distinguished – At or above the 90th percentile
  • Proficient – 70th to 89th percentile
  • Needs Improvement – Below the 70th percentile

The overall scores associated with percentiles were locked in 2013 as follows:

  • Elementary: Proficient 67.2; Distinguished 72.8; School of Distinction 76.0
  • Middle: Proficient 65.8; Distinguished 70.2; School of Distinction 72.5
  • High: Proficient 70.2; Distinguished 75.4; School of Distinction 77.7
  • District: Proficient 66.2; Distinguished 70.5; School of Distinction 71.9

What can parents do to ensure high performing students and schools?

  • Demand high levels of performance from students, schools and districts. Realize educational excellence is a shared responsibility. Take an active part in your child’s education.
  • Know what is expected of students in the different subjects and at the different grade levels. Ask school staff about any questions you may have about academic standards or the curriculum being taught.
  • Use Kentucky’s online Student Information System, Infinite Campus, if available in your district, to monitor your student’s progress.
  • Discuss your child’s progress report and state test results with his/her teachers. Look for strengths and weaknesses in the different subject areas and work with the school to develop a plan for enrichment or improvement.
  • Ask about programs or services that may be available to help your child improve such as Extended School Services, Family Resource/Youth Service Centers, tutorial programs or other opportunities in the school or community.
  • If your child is in middle or high school, ask the school how to log in to your child’s Individual Learning Plan (ILP). It includes valuable information about test scores, career interests and tools that will help you and your child plan for college.
  • Refer to the school’s consolidated plan to learn about its plans for improvement. Address the School-Based Decision Making Council (SBDM) with any questions, concerns or suggestions you may have.