Here are comments Jim made about why Kentucky needs charter schools at the Kentucky Charter School Association’s summit in Louisville on August 22, 2013.
- that while private sector defined-benefit plans must be 80% funded in Kentucky, public sector defined-benefit plans have no such legal requirements?
- that while defined-benefit plans continue to be the public sector’s retirement package of choice, in the private sector the number of defined-benefit packages has fallen by about 80% since 1985?
- that the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System assumed rate of return on investment is 7.5 percent, but the actual rate over the last five years was only 3.8 percent?
- that Kentucky has the 11th lowest combined employee-employer retirement contribution as a share of wages?
These are just a few of the reasons for why the Bluegrass Institute recommends that the first fundamental reform Kentucky must make to alleviate its $34 billion public pension crisis is to replace its woefully unreliable and underfunded defined-benefit plan with a financially sound defined-contribution plan.
From a CNBC Press Release:
“On the 2013 New York State exam, aligned for the first time with the rigorous Common Core State Standards, Success Academy Schools ranked in the top 1 percent of all New York schools in math and in the top 7 percent in English language arts. Two Success Academy Schools in the South Bronx—where the poverty rate is 88 percent—ranked among the top 25 schools in the state. African-American and Hispanic scholars from Success schools outperformed white students across the state by more than 51 points in math and 27 points in English” (emphasis added).
The article continues:
“The comparisons to traditional public schools in shared buildings were especially stark: In one Harlem school building, 79 percent of Success Academy’s third-graders passed the math test, while no third-grader in the co-located public school received a passing grade. In another building in the Bronx, where 77 percent of Success Academy third-graders passed the English test, only 3 percent of the co-located students passed. Overall, Success students outperformed students across New York City by 52 percentage points in math and 32 percentage points in English.”
And, here is another comment about the Success Academy charter system in New York City, which is really important as educators in Kentucky’s traditional school system whine about supposed inadequate funding which the Kentucky taxpayer simply cannot afford to increase:
“The nonprofit network of public charter schools receives approximately 70 percent of the public funding allotted to district schools.”
Couldn’t Kentucky use economical school successes like Success Academy in Louisville, Covington, Newport, etc? Why do Kentucky educators stand in the way of what is clearly best for kids?
It used to be inappropriate to do much state to state ranking with the ACT scores because the percentage of high school graduates in each state that took this college entrance text varied dramatically. Particularly in states where the SAT is preferred, relatively few students took the ACT, making comparisons to Kentucky’s performance impossible.
That is changing now, as more states are testing all of their graduates with the ACT. According to a 2013 score summary from the ACT nine states tested all of their graduates, and two others, Mississippi and North Dakota, nearly did the same. That makes it possible to reasonably compare scores across those high participation states.
However, a problem I have discussed in this blog before, one found in state-to-state comparisons with the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also applies to state-to-state comparisons with the ACT. Due to highly variable student demographics, you really must disaggregate the data by race to get an idea about what is really going on.
So, let’s examine how Kentucky’s dominant racial group, its white students (76 percent of all grads in 2013), performed against whites in the other ACT high participation states. The data considered covers all students, public, private and home school averaged together.
This first graph above shows the percentage of students in each of the high participation states that met or exceeded the ACT College Readiness Benchmark Score in English in 2013. This turns out to be Kentucky’s best performance, but it clearly isn’t something to be excited about. Only two states performed worse. Even more disturbing, Mississippi did notably better than Kentucky did!
Also note that Louisiana, that big charter school state, ranks near the top of the pile for English.
As I did in an earlier post, I must mention that North Carolina, which used to be an “SAT state,” just started testing all of its students with the ACT this year. As that state’s students get more experience with the ACT, I suspect we will see noted improvement.
After nearly a quarter of a century of education reform in Kentucky, the only state we surpassed in math is Good ‘Ole Mississippi. Also, fewer than one out of three of our high school graduates has an adequate preparation for postsecondary math requirements. That is really disappointing.
Note that in math North Carolina’s white students smartly stepped away from Kentucky’s whites even though their students are in the first year of 100 percent testing with the ACT.
Reading is a key skill for any type of postsecondary program, even non-technical ones. Our tail end placing for this key skill is REALLY disturbing.
Sadly, with fewer than one out of two graduates able to read adequately for postsecondary education purposes, it seems likely our high levels of college remediation and our relatively low level of college completion are not about to suddenly change with the high school graduates from 2013.
We only can say thank goodness for Mississippi in this academic area of the ACT. This comparison places all the “stuff” we have heard about how well Kentucky performs on NAEP science in sharper contrast. That is only true when we look at overall average scores. As soon as we stop playing demographic games (that essentially match our whites against poor blacks and Hispanics in other states) and match up whites against whites, that fiction quickly starts to come apart.
PREPARATION ACROSS ALL 4 SUBJECTS
This final graph shows the deplorably low percentage of graduates in 2013 who met the college readiness benchmarks across all four subjects that the ACT tests. Once again, I must remind that this includes all of Kentucky’s private and home school students, who significantly outscore our public school students. Without that boost, Kentucky’s percentage of 2013 public school graduates who are fully ready for a typical US college would probably be less than one in five.
Kentucky’s postsecondary system will probably nurse a notable number of these unprepared high school graduates along, just as has been happening for some time, but the extra expense to both students and taxpayers will be significant.
In its 2006 evaluation of state standards, the Fordham Institute said California came out at the very top, with a solid “A” grade for both math and English.
That was then.
Now, California is converting to use of the Common Core State Standards. And, a new Education Week Article, “N.Y. Test-Score Plunge Adds Fuel to Common-Core Debate,” provides interesting clues that adopting Common Core State Standards may not be the best move for the Golden State.
“On Aug. 8, California reported slight declines for grades 2-11 on its Standardized Testing and Reporting, or star, exams in English and math.
In a statement, schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson said the declines—the first time in several years that scores did not rise on both tests—were in part the result of schools’ ‘transition to the Common Core State Standards.’ However, the star assessments weren’t altered to reflect the standards this year.”
Let’s think about that. California’s teachers start teaching to Common Core, and then test scores drop on their old test, which has not been changed to Common Core standards?
Doesn’t that make it seem like teaching to Common Core is reducing performance, not raising it?
It may be that just to stay even, kids in California are going to need “More than Core.”
If someone in California is really smart, they will keep on using the STAR tests for a few more years, just to see if they are getting an inflated picture once their Common Core aligned tests are on line.
Surprising comments and data in the new ACT Profile Report for Kentucky for the Graduating Class of 2013 shed more light on one of the most contested parts of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in math.
That contested CCSS policy is the shifting of Algebra 1 from the eighth grade to the ninth grade. Math experts such as Stanford Professor of Mathematics Jim Milgram and Ze’ev Wurman, a former member of the US Department of Education, have strongly criticized that change, arguing that it will lock many students out of success in postsecondary education.
It looks like the new ACT data backs Milgram and Wurman up.
Table 3.2 in the Kentucky ACT Profile Report shows how different patterns of math course participation result in highly variable rates of college readiness in the Bluegrass State. ACT determines college readiness in math with its Mathematics Benchmark Score. That score is determined by actual surveys of colleges and shows a student has a 75 percent chance of passing a credit-bearing freshman algebra course with at least a “C” grade.
I used the data in Table 3.2 to assemble this table, which includes all listed course taking patterns that explicitly identify Algebra 1 in the sequence.
These results provide dramatic evidence that students generally need to take a course sequence of at least five math courses, starting with Algebra 1, if they are to have something close to a 50-50 chance of surviving a college algebra course.
However, in most Kentucky school systems it isn’t possible to complete five math courses during the normal four-year high school experience. Thus, to complete either of the five-course sequences in the table above, students have to take Algebra 1 in the eighth grade.
This is really no secret, and it isn’t news. Experts like Milgram and Wurman have understood these facts of life for some time. Now, real data from the latest ACT results show they are still right – and the Common Core State Standards for math need to be changed.
By the way, I quickly checked the new ACT Profile Reports for Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin (get them here) and the patterns shown in the table above are generally repeated in those states, as well. Odds of doing acceptable work in college algebra go up dramatically when students take the five-course sequences in the table above. This isn’t just a Kentucky issue.