I have been writing a lot about some obvious indications that quality control for Kentucky’s public high school diploma needs serious work. Whether we are talking about an analysis of college and career ready indicators or another analysis based on the fact that Kentucky regulation 704 KAR 3:305, Minimum requirements for high school graduation, requires students to be competent in math through Algebra II, we have seen that what it really takes to get a high school diploma in Kentucky varies widely by school district.
In the case of the Algebra II requirement, it looks like Kentucky’s Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) knows a lot of the state’s high school graduates really are not competent in Algebra II. Here is how I know that.
The CPE has established its own set of Benchmark Scores for the ACT college entrance test to determine if students are ready for credit-bearing college courses in subject areas of English, math and reading.
In a short CPE paper titled “College and Career Readiness in Kentucky,” there is a section titled “What ACT scores determine college readiness for Kentucky students?” It says:
“The Kentucky systemwide standards of college readiness are ACT scores of 18 for English, a score of 20 for reading, and a mathematics score of 19 for some introductory courses in mathematics (often statistics or an applied mathematics course), a 22 for college algebra, and a 27 for calculus (Underline added for emphasis). The Kentucky systemwide standards of readiness guarantee students access to credit-bearing coursework without the need for developmental education or supplemental courses.”
So, here’s the deal.
If a student were really competent in Algebra II, shouldn’t he or she be ready for college algebra?
But, if ALL Kentucky high school graduates really were competent in math through Algebra II, shouldn’t any graduate be able to meet that ACT score requirement of 22?
Why does CPE even need to bother with lower ACT score thresholds for non-remedial math course entry?
Obviously, a lot of high school graduates in Kentucky can’t meet the ACT Math Benchmark Score of 22, and the CPE knows it. In order to fill its classrooms, the CPE is apparently willing to admit students into some lower level math courses that don’t require competency in Algebra II even though Kentucky regulations supposedly require this level of math ability from any high school graduate.
The bottom line is that a promise about high school graduate math ability made to Kentucky through regulation 704 KAR 3:305 isn’t being kept. A whole lot of kids are getting Kentucky high school diplomas even though they really are not competent in Algebra II. And, even the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education knows it.