The tables below (click on it to enlarge, prints out best on legal size paper), have some very interesting information about the new PLAN test performance in Jefferson County’s high schools and the most recently available demographic data for those schools.
PLAN is a test from the ACT, Incorporated that is linked to the ACT’s college entrance test, which is given to all 10th grade students in Kentucky’s public schools. The PLAN Benchmark Score performance provides useful information about the percentage of students who are on track for college and careers. Both tables are sorted by the math Benchmark performance.
Some quick observations:
Regarding PLAN academic performance, the math Benchmark performance in the Persistently Low-Achieving Schools (PLAs) in Jefferson County is terrible. Only 1.9% of the 10th grade students in Valley High School were on track for college and careers as of the fall of this current school term. After nearly a quarter century of KERA, that is atrocious! Other schools like Western High, The Academy @ Shawnee, Doss High, etc., did little better. In fact, even the top performing PLAs school, Fern Creek High, is adequately preparing scarcely more than one out of ten students in math.
Science results are just as dismal for many of these schools, and only around one in for students or even fewer have acceptable reading skills, as well.
Next, consider the demographics in these schools. Note that the spending per pupil is much lower in the high-performing magnet high schools like DuPont Manual. Spending in DuPont Manual is actually around half or less the spending in some of the PLAs. So, money isn’t the answer.
Louisville’s school system has a serious problem with sex biases. Note that the schools with the worst math performance have heavy ratios of male to female enrollment, while the magnets found at the top of the table have predominant female enrollment.
The biggest discrepancy in enrollment by sex is in the highly black (77.7% black) Central High School. Females outnumber the males by a factor of nearly two to one.
Example: DuPont Manual is only 40.8% male and 59.2% female while the bottom listed school, Iroquois High, is 54.8% male and just 45.2% female.
No surprise: Whites predominate in the magnet high schools, while blacks are heavily over-represented in the Persistently Low-Achieving Schools.
Based on the free and reduced cost school lunch statistics, it’s very hard for poor kids to get into a magnet high school in Jefferson County. These mostly serve white kids.
The “Transition to Adult Life” failure rates for some schools are alarming. Valley High School’s reported 45.5% failure rate is astonishing, even compared to other PLAs high schools. Coupled with the school’s dismal, “Dropout Factory” level graduation rate of just 52.4%, this school isn’t preparing many kids for life. Even those with diplomas often only have a hollow piece of paper.
Western High’s 19.0% transition failure rate and Moore’s 13.1% failure rate are also disturbing. This places the rather dismal graduation rates in those schools in sharper relief, as well.