I’ve been writing about how Kentucky’s white students performed on the National Assessment of Educational Progress Math Assessments. Today, we’ll look at how the state’s white fourth graders fared in reading, which is the state’s best performance area.
The Courier-Journal reports that Kentucky Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt has ordered a major review of the student restraint situation in Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) based on gross under-reporting of restrain incidents and apparently in part due to the highly controversial injuries suffered by a 16-year-old student who was so severely restrained that both of his largest leg bones, his femurs, were broken.
To be sure, there is plenty of “smoke” surrounding this issue. Last month the injured boy’s parents won a $1.75 million judgment as a result of those serious, life-threatening injuries. Only a few days ago the Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Panel staffed with legislators, judges, forensic medical doctors and other individuals found investigations by both the school district and local police were highly questionable. The review panel found ample evidence that the boy had suffered “abuse.” Following the release of the panel’s report, at least some of those local agencies indicated they were reopening their investigations. The Courier reports it was advised by a member of the panel that “the Louisville Metro Police Department Crimes Against Children Unit is reviewing its entire investigation.”
It will be interesting to see what management review team being sent to JCPS by Commissioner Pruitt actually finds. Earlier reports from Louisville indicate there has been a code of silence on restraint incidents at the school district.
It certainly seems like the JCPS has a credibility problem with its gross under-reporting of restraint incidents. For the 2014-15 school year the district only reported 174 incidents of restraint and seclusion to the Kentucky Department of Education. In fact, the real number was well over 4,000. Someone is going to have a very difficult time explaining that.
And, I hope it is kept in mind, if the real seriousness of the restraint and seclusion situation in Louisville had been properly reported, perhaps corrective action would have been taken before the 16-year-old student suffered life-threatening double leg fractures.
Certainly, some involved with the case have already reached a personal decision. The Courier reports:
“‘Here’s a kid with both legs broken and nobody saw anything?’ said Rep. Tom Burch, a Louisville Democrat and member of the panel. ‘This is crazy. This is a cover-up!’”
One last note: The parents of the boy whose legs were broken yanked him out of JCPS schools. They were able to exercise school choice thanks to their damage award. But, what about other kids who are not being well-served, or maybe even worse, by the school system? What choices do they have? Kentucky should have more options so parents don’t have to wait until their child is severely abused, mentally or physically, before they have other options.
I posted on Tuesday about how Kentucky’s white students performed on the National Assessment of Educational Progress Grade 8 Math Assessment. Today, we’ll look at how the state’s white fourth graders fared.
Although there has been scant coverage in the press, lately I have been hearing a fair amount of discussion in Northern Kentucky and elsewhere about skilled labor shortages.
Our public education system is involved with this problem because large numbers of kids are currently getting high school diplomas but cannot demonstrate readiness for anything after school, not college, and not a career, either.
Certainly, the problem is starting to seem serious. I was recently told that robotics-based manufacturers in Northern Kentucky are having such a hard time finding talent that they now are encouraging area business recruiting organizations to stop attracting more robotics operations to Northern Kentucky. The pressure on the existing pool of qualified talent is already too great.
To be sure, this isn’t a very encouraging situation for Kentucky’s economy, to say the least.
As a result of what I’ve been hearing but not seeing in the press, I was particularly interested when the Kentucky Legislature’s Interim Joint Committee on Education met on Monday, July 18, 2016 to discuss the state’s workforce challenges and to hear from Kentucky Secretary of Education Hal Heiner and others about programs intended to deal with those challenges.
I also got something else at the meeting – more confirmation that Kentucky’s under-prepared workforce is indeed a growing problem. During the question period, Kentucky State Representative Jim Decesare addressed some of the workforce problems he is hearing about in his part of Kentucky. He also cited one of Secretary Heiner’s briefing slides with some grim statistics about the large proportions of recent high school graduates in the state who are not prepared for careers or college.
Maybe the popular media doesn’t want to talk about this stuff, but according to Rep. Decesare, the situation regarding skilled workforce shortages is so bad that some existing Kentucky businesses are now talking about leaving the state. But, I’ll let Rep. Decesare say this for himself.
To this, I’ll just add that we also recently have been hearing a lot from some about great progress in Kentucky education. Somehow that just doesn’t square with the rather grim numbers that worry Secretary Heiner and Representative Decesare.
It looks like Whitley County is the latest school district to have insider school adults make off with money meant for our students.
The Times-Tribune reports a “‘Forensic audit’ planned for Whitley Co. Schools” following the firing and arrest of the district’s former chief financial officer, Leigh Burke.
Over the past few years, we have been dismayed to learn of multiple cases of school system personnel thinking they have some sort of right to snatch money meant for kids.
The Dayton scandal went on for about a decade before the state auditor finally caught up with this criminal activity.
When the Shelby County incident broke, I commented about annual audits in each district that I thought were supposed to catch such nonsense. Obviously, that isn’t happening. And, our kids continue paying the price.
Unfortunately, doing valid comparisons of Kentucky’s NAEP scores to those from other states isn’t so easy. For one thing, statistical sampling errors in NAEP turn many apparent “wins” into nothing more than ties. Other factors such as wildly different student demographics and the ever-present achievement gaps complicate state to state comparison of scores, as well. You can’t just compare overall “All Student” scores from the NAEP and get a valid idea about relative state education system performance. You have to break the data out and do more refined comparisons.
I have done that for the NAEP Grade 8 math results using the NAEP Data Explorer tool to generate maps that show states where white students scored statistically significantly higher, the same as, or statistically significantly lower than Kentucky on this math assessment series. The results are very disappointing.