Bluegrass Institute president Jim Waters will appear on cn|2’s Pure Politics with Ryan Alessi to discuss the shape of Kentucky’s public pension system. This comes on the heels of the recently released Future Shock: Kentucky Politicians’ Opulent Pensions Have Become a Modern Day Gold Rush which outlines how Kentucky’s elected representatives have legislated themselves into prosperity.
Pure Politics will air at 7 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. ET this evening.
In the first two parts of this blog, I outlined compelling evidence about the extensive and probably excessive use of readers for Kentucky’s students with learning disabilities. These kids even get readers on the state’s reading assessments. That prevents education leaders and the public from knowing if any real effort is being expended to teach these special students to read.
I also provided evidence that using readers significantly inflates so-called “reading” scores for this student group.
The score inflation feature of the reading accommodation in testing certainly could explain why some Kentucky teachers are fighting tooth and nail to preserve this misleading, and very likely damaging, testing practice.
Those teachers who want to continue massive use of the reading accommodation on reading tests also complain that not reading the tests to these students would be unfair to those students.
In fact, exciting new information from Northern Kentucky makes it seem more likely that allowing schools an easy out from trying to teach many learning disabled kids to read is actually causing far more damage to those children. You see, Northern Kentucky schools are learning that notable numbers of students who have been carried as very weak or totally non-readers for some time can learn to read after all.
In a real break with her own national leadership and many other state level teachers’ union organizations, the head of the Kentucky Education Association (KEA), Sharron Oxendine, is saying some very nice things about the Teach for America program (TFA). TFA is placing college graduates from some of the nation’s finest universities into K to 12 classrooms.
TFA teachers already have outstanding knowledge in their chosen college majors such as science and math. TFA provides them a short, but important, introduction into teaching and then these high performing college students enter the classroom under Kentucky’s alternative teacher certification program.
This process has apparently caused friction in other states, perhaps because rank and file teachers might feel threatened by the high academic performance of TFA teachers.
However, it looks like the KEA’s leader is moving beyond such short-sighted viewpoints as an article titled “KEA may be the most pro-TFA teachers union in the country” in the Rural Blog (scroll down in the set of articles to find it) points out.
Much of increase comes from AdvanceKentucky schools
The Kentucky Department of Education just issued a news release about our high school students’ performance on the Advanced Placement tests.
This table, taken from the release, tells some of the important story.
Between 2008 and 2012 the number of individual students taking at least one AP exam each year has nearly doubled, soaring from 14,664 students in 2008 to 26,523 in this past school year.
The number of actual tests taken (some students take more than one AP course each year) also exploded from 23,280 to 43,185.
Finally, the number of tests scored with at least a 3 (usually the minimum required for a college to accept the AP course for college credit), nearly doubled, as well.
Kentucky’s Education Commissioner Terry Holliday says that the state’s growing emphasis on college and careers is part of the reason these numbers are increasing, but he also said that the AdvanceKentucky program, which we have written about many times before, such as here, actually contributed a large proportion of this increase. That is really remarkable because AdvanceKentucky was only in 64 Kentucky high schools in 2011-12. There are around 230 high schools in Kentucky.
The only cautionary note in the good news is that the success rate for several minority groups declined a bit.
In this next table, note in the bottom section that the percentage of blacks and Hispanics scoring a 3 or higher on the AP dropped between 2008 and 2012.
For example, as the next set of tables show, in 2008 there were 686 blacks who took an AP exam and 204 of them – that is 29.7 percent – scored a 3 or more. In the 2012 testing, only 26.8 percent of the blacks scored a 3 or more. More blacks successfully took the AP tests, but their success rate fell a bit. Black success rates also continue to be notably lower than rates for other racial groups, an unbroken trend since 2008.
Still, the number of 3 or higher scored tests has increased for all minority groups, which is also very good news.
Jim Waters joined WHAS’ Mandy Connell on Monday morning and much of the discussion was focused on tax and budget reform. You can hear the podcast here:
In August we armed Kentuckians with a few key questions to ask their legislators about the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform. These questions are below and are still relevant!
(1) Despite the fact that most lawmakers from both sides of the aisle say Kentucky’s tax code is outdated and a hindrance to economic growth, Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, the chairman of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform said last week that any kind of big, bold reform is unlikely. But Kentucky needs bold reform: The 2012 Alec-Laffer State Economic Competitive Index ranks Kentucky No. 39 out of 50 on economic outlook and No 49 out of 50 on our public debt and unemployment rate of 8.2 percent.
QUESTION for your legislators: What specific action will you take to make our tax policy more business-friendly, competitive and prosperous?
(2) Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, who also is chairman of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform, recently indicated that a sweeping overhaul of the state’s tax code isn’t in the works. He also said: “I don’t think anyone ever thought there would be a complete rewrite of the tax code.”
QUESTION for Gov. Beshear: Do you agree with Lt. Gov. Abramson’s views? If so, did the tax commission fail to fulfill its purpose? If you do not agree with Lt. Gov. Abramson, what overhauls do you plan to address, and how?
To contact your legislator, call toll-free (800) 372-7181. You do not have to have to know the name of your legislator. You only need to give your name, address and question. It will then be forwarded to those legislators that represent your area of Kentucky.
To contact the Governor’s office, you will be transferred to a voice mail. All you need to do is leave your name, phone number and question.