This week we have examined Kentucky’s long-term problem with white versus black academic achievement gaps. We learned the problem is very long term from evidence in the National Assessment of Educational Progress. We saw that more recently three tests from ACT, Inc., show serious and growing gap problems for our eighth and tenth grade students continued right up through 2014.
Today, we’ll examine a summary of gap problems in Kentucky’s own performance tests, the Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (KPREP) series. The relatively new KPREP started providing data in 2012, so we have three years of data from this assessment where the scores are broken out by race. However, we can look at more subjects than either the NAEP or the EXPLORE and PLAN cover.
In fact, because there is so much data available from KPREP, I am only going to show you a summary of the changes in white minus black achievement gaps between 2012 and 2014.
This table summarizes the change in the achievement gap between 2012 and 2014 on KPREP subjects by school level. Where the table cells are shaded, the gaps grew, which is something we don’t want. There is an awful lot of shading on this graph!
By the way, in most cases both white and black KPREP scores increased between 2012 and 2014, but whites improved at a notably faster rate, resulting in the growth in the gaps shown in all those shaded cells in the table.
However, there were some exceptions to the score growth trend. Scores didn’t rise in all areas at all school levels, and some of this bad news even shows up in the few examples in the table where the gaps were reduced.
For example, in high school KPREP math, the actual proficiency rates for whites and blacks both declined between 2012 and 2014 (you will see this in a graph available by clicking the “Read more” link below). The high school KPREP math gap narrowed only because the black proficiency rate didn’t FALL quite as fast as the white rate did.
A similar problem is found with the Elementary School KPREP Social Studies scores. The gap was narrowed, but both white and black proficiency rates actually fell between 2012 and 2014. The gap closed a bit only because the black proficiency rate didn’t fall quite so fast.
Overall, the message from KPREP is very clear – in general, even when scores increase, blacks are being left farther behind in Kentucky.
This isn’t right, and we need to get more aggressive about pursuing options that can give our minority students better opportunities to learn. 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.
Click the “Read more” link for more details on how the table was assembled.