It’s now officially recorded. The Kentucky House has approved the state’s first charter school bill by a vote of 56 to 39.
Legislation Alert: House Bill 520 to establish charter schools passed by Kentucky House Education Committee
Full House debating now
Today marks a notable move forward in the attempt to bring more school choice to Kentucky. House Bill 520, with amendments, received a favorable vote in the Kentucky House’s Education Committee this morning.
The discussion on the bill included highlights by several key Kentucky leaders including Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Hal Heiner, and Kentucky Board of Education member Pastor Milton Seymore in addition to those from the bill’s sponsor, Kentucky Representative John (Bam) Carney.
Starting shortly after noon, the legislation is now being heard in the full Kentucky House.
Important late-breaking changes to the approved bill include the deletion of pure online charter schools and the addition of the mayors of Louisville and Lexington as authorizers.
If eventually adopted, House Bill 520 would make Kentucky the 44th state to have a charter school law.
Bluegrass Institute Scholar and Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) member Gary Houchens will participate in a town hall on charter schools at 6 pm today in Room 110 at Madisonville Community College Muhlenberg Campus, 406 W. Everly Brothers Blvd., Central City.
The event is free and open to the public.
Houchens, Ph.D., is associate professor and coordinator of the School Principal Certification program in Western Kentucky University’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership and Research.
Tonight’s event is hosted by the Muhlenberg County Democratic Party Executive Committee said the event will be nonpartisan and will be held “debate style” according to media liaison Stacie Barton.
Houchens will be joined by fellow KBE member Ben Cundiff, chairman of Jackson Financial Corp.; Gay Adelmann, member of Save Our Schools Kentucky; Ellen Yonts Suetholz, attorney at Kircher, Suetholz & Associates, PSC; and Dr. Susan Edington, assistant professor of early childhood and elementary education at Murray State University and former KBE member.
Each presenter will speak for about 15 minutes, and at the end, those in attendance will have the opportunity to ask questions.
“We are trying to do more outreach in education on topics that are in front of the legislation right now and affect our local area,” Barton said. “It should be an interesting meeting and informative.”
Three charter school bills were filed before this year’s General Assembly deadline for introducing bills.
Houchens is a former social studies teacher, assistant principal and district administrator who has served in both public and private school settings.
He recently led a School Choice Solutions Roundtable for the Bluegrass Institute. Watch his presentation here.
Former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear delivered a rather weak response to President Donald Trump’s recent — and impressive — address to the joint meeting of the Congress.
In his remarks, Beshear touted Kentucky’s rapid growth in high school graduation rates. It sounded impressive, but the nation deserves to hear the rest of this misleading story.
At the end of the 2015-16 school year, the Kentucky School Report Cards database reported a high school graduation rate of 88.6 percent based on the new Four-Year Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (ACGR) formula now required for federal reporting. That graduation rate is indeed well above the national average and has increased slightly from the 86.1 percent ACGR posted by Kentucky at the end of the 2012-13 school year (which is the first year Kentucky used this new formula, making comparisons to earlier years’ graduation rates inappropriate).
Kentucky’s ACGR numbers look impressive, but the real question is whether or not Kentucky’s recent high school graduates are getting the education those diplomas are supposed to represent. Unfortunately, there is very strong evidence that Kentucky is just handing out lots of rather hollow diplomas.
Hollow Diplomas Exhibit A starts with a review of Kentucky’s education regulations.
Kentucky regulation 704 KAR 3:305, “Minimum requirements for high school graduation” stipulates that Kentucky’s high school graduates will be competent in mathematics through Algebra II.
However, the Kentucky School Report Card database shows the proficiency rate on the state’s Algebra II End-of-Course Exam was only 38.2 percent in the 2014-15 school term (most Kentucky students take Algebra II in the 11th grade)! And, Algebra II proficiency rates haven’t changed much since Algebra II End-of-Course testing began in 2011-12 when the rate was actually a bit higher at 40.0 percent.
Clearly, it takes some “very interesting” math to reconcile a 38.2 Algebra II proficiency rate with a high school graduation rate of 88.6 percent when competency in that math subject is a stipulated requirement to get those diplomas.
But, there is more, as Hollow Diplomas Exhibit B shows.
Kentucky’s stated goal for its public education system is to make students ready for college and/or a career (CCR). The state has actually developed a number of metrics based on a variety of different tests and other things like earning a recognized industry certificate, e.g. a welder’s certificate, as evidence of such readiness. The current CCR criteria have been around since the 2011-12 school term.
However, in 2015-16 the Kentucky School Report Cards show only 68.5 percent of those students who received a Kentucky high school diploma were able to meet muster under any of the various ways available to establish readiness for either college or a career. The rest of the 2015-16 graduates, nearly one-third of the total, were not ready for either college or a career and clearly got a rather hollow diploma.
In fact, if you combine the data for graduation rates and CCR rates for 2015-16 together, it looks like only around 61 percent of Kentucky’s entering ninth graders who became the Class of 2016 actually graduated from high school with a meaningful education. That “Effective Graduation Rate” of only 61 percent isn’t something anyone would cheer.
So, beware Beshear’s Kentucky high school graduation claims. More kids are probably getting paper in Kentucky (though even that number has not been rigorously audited to my knowledge). But, this clearly is happening only because regulatory requirements and stated education goals are being ignored in a rush to socially promote students to a piece of paper regardless of merit.
For more on this important topic:
I wrote a few days ago about new research from the Kentucky Department of Education that compares average mathematics letter grades to performance on Kentucky’s math assessments.
That initial blog discusses the fact that Kentucky’s children of color are generally getting higher letter grades for math than white students receive for similar test score performance.
Today, I expand on that with another graph from the recently released “The State of P-12 Education in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.” This new graph compares the overall average math grades for all high school students to the probability the students are really ready for college math. The test measure is the ACT college entrance test, and the ACT readiness score has been set by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) as a rather undemanding low of 19.
The Kentucky Department of Education says the figures used to generate the graph are for average performances across 2012 to 2016 data.
There are some disturbing things in this graph.
The far right side of the graph provides evidence that even consistently scoring an “A” in Kentucky public high school math courses provides no guarantee of real math readiness. Less than 75 percent of the students who averaged an “A” in their high school math courses were also able to pass muster against the undemanding ACT target set by the CPE.
Things get more bothersome quickly as we move down the grade scale. Even for those students averaging a “B” in math, the picture is pretty grim. Fewer than one in two of those students are likely to meet the low requirement set by the CPE. For students with still lower math grades, the odds of surviving college math look pretty gruesome.
By the way, while the CPE says an ACT math score of 19 is good enough to avoid remedial coursework in college, the ACT says that a notably higher math score of 22 is actually needed to have at least a 75 percent chance of getting at least a “C” in the lower-level college math course of algebra.
In Kentucky’s public postsecondary system, a grade point average below 2.0 (generally a “C” average) will not allow graduation.
We often hear that high school grade point averages are better predictors of college performance than other factors like ACT scores. That correlation might have been true in the past, but when grading in Kentucky’s public school system today seems in too many cases to vary widely from real performances needed to succeed, this old rule of thumb might not be true anymore.
In any event, parents beware. Just because your kid gets an “A,” don’t think you are home free. There are plenty of stories of “A” students arriving on campus only to discover that they are not ready for college level math. Sometimes, that shock is more than our kids today can handle. And, based on this new research from the Kentucky Department of Education, it looks like there is plenty of room for even “A” students to get some very unpleasant surprises upon college entry.