Suddently, Common Core is rubbing more than just Republican Party groups the wrong way.
BIPPS joins fifth annual National School Choice Week to close academic gaps, promote educational liberty for Kentucky families
Week-long series looks at various types of school choice
For Immediate Release: Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015 Contact: Jim Waters @ 270-320-4376
(Frankfort, Ky.) – To show support for enhancing and expanding educational opportunities for all families, the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s first and only free-market think tank, is joining with supporters of educational liberty to celebrate the fifth annual National School Choice Week from Jan. 25-31.
Follow the #schoolchoice4kykids campaign – which will include a blog series offering a snapshot of each type of school choice – on Twitter @bipps. Please “favorite” and retweet for your network of friends.
“Since its beginning in 2003, the Bluegrass Institute has advocated giving parents a choice so the Bluegrass State’s kids have a chance,” said Bluegrass Institute president Jim Waters. “While school choice comes in many different forms, it’s ultimately about ensuring that each child has access to the kind of education that will prepare them to succeed in the increasingly competitive 21st century global workforce.”
A recent series of reports by Bluegrass Institute staff education analyst Richard G. Innes and posted on the Bluegrass Institute blog reveal that while Kentucky’s political and educational establishment have largely dug in against the idea of offering parents educational alternatives for their children, the academic-achievement gap between the commonwealth’s black and white kids continues to widen.
He reiterates the need for charter schools, which in many places nationwide have succeeded in closing such gaps.
He also challenges charter-school opponents, including some Kentucky legislators, who misuse research while comparing the gaps in academic performance between charters and traditional public school, citing their cherry picking from reports published by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) to fit their anti-charter-school ideology.
“We need to get more aggressive about pursuing options that can give our minority students better opportunities to learn,” Innes writes. “One of those options is to establish a high quality charter school system to take advantage of the better performance that these schools of choice are providing minorities in states with solid charter programs.”
The lone school-choice bill filed so far during the 2015 session of the Kentucky General Assembly would make Kentucky the nation’s 43rd charter-school state.
You can help bring public charter schools to the commonwealth by calling 1-800-372-7181 and telling the phone clerk to let your legislator know you support charter schools for Kentucky.
Louisville’s Robert Frost Middle School and Myers Middle School have been a major problem for years.
Frost was tagged as a Persistently Low-Achieving School (PLAs) in the very first “Cohort” named in the spring of 2010. Myers followed into Persistently Low-Achieving status about a year and a half later when Cohort 3 PLAs were identified in October of 2011. Since then, both schools have blazed a trail of continued mediocrity so bad that the Jefferson County Board of Education essentially closed them at the end of the past school term.
But, the fix adopted by the board already shows disconcerting evidence that failure to educate former students from Myers and Frost continues.
Is that really right?
Could a true rate only be around 47 percent???
New data from the US Department of Education indicates that Kentucky’s 2012-13 high school graduation rate of 86 percent was only exceeded by nine other states. This rate is also notably higher than the US average of 81 percent. Those new numbers are based on a new way to calculate high school graduation rates called the “Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate” (ACGR).
Certainly, the grad rate news sounds really great, but I have concerns.
1) First of all, the state level Kentucky School Report Card for 2012-13 says that only 54.1 percent of Kentucky’s public school graduates were either college or career ready in that year. Combining that with the new graduation rate data, we can essentially say that out of every 100 students who entered Kentucky’s high schools four years earlier in the fall of 2009, 86 graduated. But, of those 86 graduates, only 54.1 percent – or about 47 students – were really adequately prepared for life. Were the other 39 students who got a piece of paper just socially promoted? It seems like that is the case.
In fact, the real situation could look even worse. In December the Kentucky Office of Education Accountability presented a report to a legislative committee that raised concerns about the real accuracy of Kentucky’s college and career ready numbers. It may be that some of the criteria used to determine readiness in Kentucky might not be sufficiently rigorous, leading to inflated readiness figures. If so, it may well be that even fewer than 47 out of every 100 who entered Kentucky’s high schools in 2009 really came out the other end with a solid education as opposed to a somewhat meaningless piece of paper.
2) In earlier years the Kentucky Department of Education reported graduation rates using a formula called the Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR). Those reports included detailed information on the numbers and types of graduates such as how many students earned a standard diploma within four years of school entry, how many took more time to earn a standard diploma, how many students with an Individual Education Plan earned a diploma within five years (which also counted as a success), and how many received a certificate of attendance document. Kentuckians also received details on how many students were included in the calculation used for the denominator of the AFGR formula.
Now, it looks like all those old AFGR reports are gone in the Kentucky Department of Education’s web site. Old links to those reports no longer work. For example, this 2012 department news release provides a link to the 2012 data, but the link is broken.
So far, there has been no detailed release of similar information regarding the diplomas and certificates awarded to Kentucky’s graduates in either 2013 or 2014. Why?
So, I’ll reserve final judgment on the accuracy of the graduation rates until I get more data. However, even using the published graduation rates and readiness rates, it is clear that far too many Kentucky diplomas fail to honor truly successful educational accomplishment.
You could say that at best only 47 students out of 100 successfully graduated from Kentucky’s high schools in 2012-13, and that is a very sad situation.
Herald-Leader columnist Merlene Davis posted interesting comments about charter schools in an interview she recently conducted with Jessica Hiler, president of the Fayette County Education Association. The union leader trotted out most of the union’s anti-charter arguments, but Ms. Davis clearly wasn’t buying.
When Hiler said that charter schools don’t produce higher achievement than traditional public schools (TPS), Davis pointed out that, “Black and poor kids tend to do better academically in charter schools.” Meanwhile, Davis added, “In traditional public schools, the achievement gap for black, Hispanic and poor kids is growing.”
Readers of this blog know from our series of articles that started on January 5, 2015 that white minus black gaps have indeed have been growing in Kentucky.
When Hiler said TPS teachers wanted to close “achievement gaps sooner rather than later,” Davis pointed out that it looks like “later is winning” when it comes to actual results in the TPS.
Davis did say that “Some charters are better than traditional schools and some are worse. The rest are about the same.”
Actually, the reports that show these sorts of results may have a bias problem, as we point out in our blog on “Don’t charter schools perform about the same as regular public schools?” As this blog points out, recent research shows that if students stay in charters long enough to have a reasonable chance to benefit, the charters do a notably better job for them than the TPS would do.
Union head Hiler talked about high teacher turnover in charters.
There is a bit of pot calling the kettle black in that. Hiler should have been at the School Curriculum, Accountability and Assessment Committee (SCAAC) meeting I attended last week. As reported by the State Journal’s January 14, 2015 article, “New teacher retention is statewide issue” (subscription needed), there was a lively discussion and considerable concern about the high loss of new teachers in Kentucky’s TPS. By year three, Kentucky is losing more than half of its new teachers from our TPS system.
In closing, I think Ms. Davis got one of her closing comments exactly right when she said:
“What we have, despite the wants and desires of teachers, is not working. Something has to change.”
An Eastern Elementary School (Scott County) second grade student owes a big debt of thanks to her school principal, and maybe some good Kentucky school rules, as well.
The second grader was choking in the school cafeteria when her principal, Ed Denney, ran in to successfully apply techniques taught in CPR training to dislodge the food and open up her breathing passage again.
Good job, Mr. Denney!