Since the founding days of the Bluegrass Institute about 14 years ago, we have pushed the need for more school choice in Kentucky. That evidence includes our extensive discussions of the chronic achievement gaps for whites and blacks in Kentucky’s public school system in many past blogs and reports. However, today we take a quick look at some different scores – those from Kentucky’s statewide administration of the ACT college entrance test to all the public school 11th grade students.
This table shows what we found after examining the proportions of white and black Kentucky students who scored at or above the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education’s (CPE) “Benchmark Scores” from the ACT. These score levels allow students to enter the state’s postsecondary education system without having to take remedial courses.
We look at data from 2012, the first year that Kentucky used Common Core aligned testing in English language arts areas and math, and the latest results from 2016.
The top part of the table shows data for the 2016 ACT administration and the bottom section covers the results from 2012 testing. The gaps by subject are also listed for each year.
As you can see, the gaps for all three subjects are substantial for both years.
Even more troubling, during the entire time that Kentucky has been heavily invested in Common Core to the point of actually testing these standards, the English white minus black achievement gap remained unchanged and the math gap actually increased from 22.8 in 2012 to 23.6 in 2016, a rise of 0.8 percentage point.
The reading gap did decline a smidgeon, but only by a rather trivial 0.3 of a percentage point. Even as of 2016, the percentage of whites reaching the CPE’s reading benchmark is about double the black percentage.
This ACT information isn’t a surprise, of course. It is consistent with other testing results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, ACT’s recently cancelled EXPLORE and PLAN tests (both victims of Common Core, by the way), and even the state’s still to be fully proven KPREP tests.
No matter what testing series is examined, the Bluegrass State always shows serious achievement gap problems.
Clearly, it is time to adopt an education policy – charter schools – that is showing especial progress with minority students, the very same students that continue to founder under Kentucky’s current, one-size-must-fit-all education system.