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Education Week reports in “More Students With Disabilities Heading to College” (subscription) that more kids with learning disabilities are going on to postsecondary education.
Amazing as this might first appear, this shows that if these special kids are taught properly, they can lead much more productive lives.
One theme in the article is that these kids are also becoming independent as they enter the college world. That gets me back to a topic I discussed several days ago – the Kentucky Board of Education’s long-delayed decision to no longer allow our teachers to read Kentucky’s reading tests to students with learning disabilities.
Sadly, some teachers have complained about this important improvement. I don’t think those well-meaning but misguided teachers get it: to be independent, someone really needs to be able to read. You can’t learn to read if an adult reads everything to you for the entire time you are growing up.
The state board does get it. Members specifically said they wanted independent readers. That is a good choice of terms, because independent readers can become independent adults, even if they do have special learning challenges.
It’s time to open up opportunities to Kentucky’s learning disabled kids. I hope our schools get with the program and really make an effort try to teach these kids to read. I think some of those educators will be surprised about what these kids are really capable of doing if we just let them try.
We recently discussed and applauded the University of Kentucky’s potential student housing solution of allowing private developers to build and manage dorms on campus.
It seems this idea has legs and the university may be in some uncharted waters. The Wall Street Journal reported today that this plan is moving forward! Great to see the commonwealth getting national attention for free-market solutions!
We told you so. Kentucky’s high schools are losing a lot more kids than you have been told.
The Kentucky Office of Education Accountability (OEA) presented “Analysis of Kentucky Career and College Readiness using the P20 Database” to the Kentucky Legislature’s Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee today. It was a first look at what happens to our public school students between high school entry and college, and one slide showed how our high schools leak students to dropout status like a sieve.
If you look at the “Total” column, this table shows that there were 55,056 students in the graduating class of 2009 when the group entered high school in the fall of the 2005-06 school term. One year, later, there were only 49,518 left to take the PLAN test, which is required for all the state’s 10th grade students. One year after that, only 42,929 had survived to take the ACT college entrance test, which again is a requirement for all public school juniors in Kentucky.
Finally, in the spring of 2009 just 42,657 students made it all the way to graduation. That left 12,399 students that didn’t graduate, at least on time, with their class. The OEA euphemistically calls those the “Leakage.” I would call most of them dropouts.
Compare the OEA “Leakage” for the Class of 2009 to the numbers of students that state educators officially say dropped out from this class as it worked its way through high school. That is shown by the numbers circled in red in the next table, which I assembled from dropout data released by the Kentucky Department of Education.
Officially, this class lost only 6,272 students as it worked its way through high school. Where did the other 6,127 “Leakage” students go? According to a KDE Excel spreadsheet for graduations in 2010, only a small number from the “Leakage” graduated later – just 1,025 were listed as graduates in 2010 who took more than four years to get their diplomas. That leaves 5,102 students who just leaked away, somewhere else.
By the way, the OEA brief discussed the often heard excuse that these kids just moved out of state. Not so. US Census reports indicate Kentucky’s population has been slowly growing over time. So, any kids that did move away were replaced by others, perhaps in somewhat larger numbers.
We’re leaking students, all right. We’re leaking many of them right into jail, where kids who don’t finish a high school education far too frequently wind up.
Before closing on this, go back to the first table and note that “Leakage” isn’t equal for either males versus females or for blacks versus whites. Being male, or being black, isn’t a very good ticket to a high school education in this state.