One of the biggest concerns about the new K-PREP program is a loss of the level of protection afforded to minorities under the now waived No Child Left Behind school accountability program. While the new Unbridled Learning accountability program does include an element that looks at achievement gaps, it does so by lumping all minorities and special students into one overall calculation. That can leave student subgroups behind.
The data shown below for Middle schools indicates that achievement gaps are a problem.
This first graph shows the gaps in Kentucky’s middle schools for white to African-American and White to Hispanic reading proficiency rates (the combined percentage of students scored “Proficient” and “Distinguished”). Results from the new K-PREP and the now defunct Kentucky Core Content Tests (KCCT) from one year earlier are both shown, broken down by grade.
To read this table, the first bar on the left shows the gap in proficiency rates for whites and African-Americans in sixth grade reading was 23.4 percentage points on K-PREP. The red bar immediately to the right of the first bar shows that last year the white to African-American reading proficiency gap in the sixth grade reported by the KCCT was somewhat lower, at 22.5 percent.
Overall, with the change to K-PREP the achievement gaps grew for every combination shown on the middle school reading graph. This is exactly the same trend we earlier reported for elementary school reading gaps during the transition from KCCT to K-PREP.
Here is a similar graph for the mathematics achievement gaps.
The white to African-American math gap situation is definitely better for math. K-PREP white to African-American gaps are lower in all three middle school grades.
However, the white to African-American gaps remain very large. For example, in 2012 in the sixth grade, whites scored 49.1 percent proficient in math while the African-American proficiency rate was only 25.7 percent.
In the case of middle school Hispanic math results, while the white to Hispanic gaps are all much lower than the white to African-American gaps, the Hispanic gaps grew notably in the sixth grade and slightly in the seventh grade. The Hispanic gap was reduced only in the eighth grade.