Common Core’s dream collapsing for minorities
After an initial delay, the Kentucky Department of Education posted the latest scores for the EXPLORE and PLAN college readiness tests for Kentucky’s statewide eighth grade testing from the 2014-2015 school term this morning.
Sadly, the picture for the white minus black achievement gaps is uniformly unfavorable for all subjects on both tests, as Table 1 shows.
Here is what the table shows. The 2012 Kentucky School Report Card for the state (get that here) shows for 2011-12 that 63.9 percent of the eighth grade whites in Kentucky scored at or above the EXPLORE English Benchmark Score that showed they were on track for college in this subject. That same year, only 39.3 percent of the blacks were on track. The difference – the gap – is 24.6 points as shown in the table under the English column for the EXPLORE Gap 2012 line (note, to reduce table clutter, all dates are listed by the end year of each school term). Similar calculations were made from the EXPLORE data pages in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Kentucky School Report Cards (available here). An identical process was used to calculate the PLAN information.
Sadly, as emphasized by the red typeface for all the numbers in the rows that show the gap changes between 2012 and 2015, IN EVERY SINGLE CASE, THE WHITE MINUS BLACK ACHIEVEMENT GAPS FOR BOTH EXPLORE AND PLAN HAVE INCREASED SINCE KENTUCKY ADOPTED COMMON CORE ALIGNED STATE TESTS IN THE 2011-12 SCHOOL YEAR. We obviously want the white minus black achievement gaps to be reduced, so a trend of increasing gaps is clearly very bad.
It gets worse. The latest Benchmark performances for Kentucky’s black community are simply depressing, as Table 2 shows.
Except for PLAN math and science there has been no improvement, and in most cases DECAY in black scores over the period from 2012 to 2015. And, given the deplorable scores for PLAN math and reading, the very small improvements are completely inadequate, as well.
EXPLORE and PLAN show Kentucky is grossly leaving its major minority population behind and the situation is generally worse now than when Common Core started.
After 25 years of expensive education reform efforts in Kentucky, only around one in ten black students is getting the math education needed, and only about one in five is getting the even more critical reading skills that are essential for almost any career today. These numbers are a disgrace.
Furthermore, this new evidence fits well with an existing body of education research that says disadvantaged student populations need more direct instructional approaches than the highly student-centered approaches favored in the Common Core based curriculum. I want to emphasize that this isn’t a new message, but the new data does add current evidence that education ideologues in the Kentucky Department of Education seem unwilling or unable to understand – their blindly favored Progressive Education approaches just don’t work well for minority students. I don’t know how we change their mired-in-cement mindsets, but we need to do something more effective for our kids.
It is way past time for Kentucky to meet its obligations to its minority students by opening up more education options for them such as charter schools. The new EXPLORE and PLAN results argue rather strongly that Kentucky’s public education system is not pursuing productive paths to reduce the achievement gaps. The state’s choice to use Common Core State Standards, which impact the English, math and reading results discussed in this blog, is not working well for Kentucky’s black students, either. Thus, after 25 years of KERA, blacks are being left further behind.