MUCH longer for racial minorities
One of the more valuable features in Kentucky’s new Unbridled Learning public school accountability program is the fact that the state is now tracking how well our public high school graduates are being prepared for college and careers. Attention to college and career readiness was all but totally absent from the old CATS system. In fact, CATS scoring was essentially insensitive to real college and career readiness.
Briefly, in the Unbridled Learning system students who score high enough on one of several tests to avoid automatic entry into college remedial courses are considered college-ready in Kentucky (more on that is in the “Read more” section of this post). Students who pass one of several vocation-oriented tests and meet other criteria are considered career-ready (again, more on that in the “Read more” area). Overall, the criteria for college-ready and career-ready are based on reasonable tests and standards. When Unbridled Learning says a student is college- and/or career-ready, that determination seems valid.
So, let’s see how well our graduating class of 2013 performed against Unbridled Learning’s standards.
This first graph shows the percentage of the Class of 2013 from Kentucky’s public high schools that was fully college-ready with no need to take any remedial courses as college freshmen.
As you can see, there is considerable variation in readiness by race in this graph. As is true in most states, the best educated group was our Asian population, but they make up a very small part of the state’s enrollment.
Whites predominate in Kentucky’s schools (about 80 percent of the total enrollment), and little more than half were ready to take a full load of credit-bearing freshmen college coursework.
Kentucky’s second most populous student group is the African-American community (around 10 percent of all students). For this group, fewer than one in three students were ready to take on college without any expensive remedial course needs.
Similarly low performance is found for the other racial minorities except the Asians, as well.
This next graph shows the proportion of students who were not college-ready but who did get a solid background to go into decent paying vocations. The career-but-not-college-ready crowd is a very small group at this time in Kentucky, amounting to well under 10 percent of all our graduates in 2013.
The next graph richly deserves to be flagged in red. This third graph shows the depressingly high percentages of our high school graduates in 2013 who didn’t meet any college or career-ready standard. These students arguably got a hollow diploma that does not signify readiness for what will be coming next in their lives.
This blood-red-tinged graph offers sad commentary on the current quality of education in Kentucky. It also shows something else – college and career readiness performance varies dramatically by race. While it is bad enough that nearly half of our white graduates were neither college or career-ready, the under-educated percentage skyrockets to more than two out of three graduates when we look at the African-American data. Except for the Asians, more than half of all the Kentucky 2013 graduates of color were not adequately prepared for life.
This final graph is somewhat different. I divided the number of our graduates who were career-ready only by the number of graduates who were neither career- nor college-ready, converting the resulting ratio to a percentage. This graph examines the amount of need we have for students to at least become career-ready by graduation that currently is not being met.
As you can see, a whole lot of the need for preparation for life in Kentucky’s schools that might be met by career-ready training currently is going unfulfilled. Also, the proportion of career-ready training versus the need that is being met varies considerably by race.
For example – while the overall numbers for all races are obviously low – compared to the need, non-college-ready whites are six times more likely to get the career-ready training they need than African-Americans are.
This raises uncomfortable questions about possible inequity of opportunity for children of color to get the career readiness training they badly need.
• Is there racial inequity of opportunity to even take career readiness courses?
• Or, is this evidence of poor performance of career-ready courses that are being offered to African-Americans and other minorities?
I don’t have the resources to research those questions, but someone at the Kentucky Department of Education should, and they need to look into this.
After all, if our kids are not being prepared for either college or careers, they may be little better off than high school dropouts even if they do have a piece of paper in their hands. And, Kentucky may be looking at a growing dependency sector that this state’s economy is ill-positioned to support.
The graphs above show continuing relatively low performance for racial minorities in Kentucky. This indicates the state’s education system needs more programs that have shown specific success with these student groups. One such program Kentucky has yet to try involves charter schools. Charters have demonstrated the capability to provide notable success in getting more minority kids ready for college and careers. It’s way past time for Kentucky to explore this important option.
For still more, including technical details behind the graphs, click on “Read more.”