This is via Intellectual Takeout:
New Rule: When a politician says he’s going to create jobs, he has to resign and actually start a business.
Andrew Porter, dean of the graduate school of education at the University of Pennsylvania and a former member of Kentucky’s National Technical Advisory Panel on Assessment and Accountability (NTAPAA), is raises some very strong concerns about the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) that Kentucky adopted a year ago.
In a letter published in Education Week (subscription?) Porter writes,
“I wish I could say that our progress toward common-core standards has fulfilled my hopes. Instead, it seems to me that the common-core movement is turning into a lost opportunity.”
He goes on to say the CCSS do not represent a “meaningful” improvement over existing state standards.
Porter has more to say. Regarding the two separate efforts to create new tests based on the CCSS, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium Porter says:
“What I know so far about the work of the two multistate consortia developing the assessments isn’t promising. It sounds as if the new assessments may ignore state-of-the-art research and technological advances, settling for tests that are much like the ones we already have.”
Kentucky’s teachers are gearing up right now to teach to the new standards so our students will be prepared for new tests. Let’s hope Porter, who was often rather insightful in his NTAPAA days, is off target this time.
Collaboration between freedom-loving citizens and business leaders in Kenton County, Kentucky, has borne abundant fruit.
A petition drive sponsored by this coalition has collected signatures of nearly 25,000 residents of the county who want a right to vote about the continued operation of the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission or NKAPC.
NKAPC was created decades ago to coordinate area development in the three major Northern Kentucky counties of Kenton, Boone and Campbell. The law that enabled creation of the NKAPC stipulated that more than one county must be a member and at least one city with 50,000 residents must be included.
Of key interest, the law allowed the NKAPC to be a separate taxing entity with only rather loose control from officials actually elected by the citizens.
Still, this would make sense, if the commission really operated as a multi-county planning and zoning operation.
However, Boone County never joined.
Later, Campbell County left NKAPC, leaving this organization basically operating in just Kenton County. Furthermore, the latest Census shows the population in Covington, Kentucky, the county’s largest city, has dropped well below the 50,000 figure stipulated by law. Thus, continued operation of the NKAPC no longer appears to comply with the original intent of the law.
The current situation renders Kenton the only county in Kentucky where zoning, planning and building inspection is actually rather far removed from the control of elected county officials who are ultimately responsible.
And, while exact figures are in hot dispute, it almost certainly makes the operation of these functions much more expensive in Kenton County than in any of adjoining counties.
In any event, it looks like Kenton County voters will now get to decide for themselves. The Tea Party/Builders Association team needed to collect something less than 18,000 signatures to put the issue on the November ballot. Even allowing for the almost inevitable disqualification of some of the petition signatures, there is so much overkill in the number of signatures submitted to the Kenton County Clerk’s office that a ballot item seems all but inevitable.
The Bluegrass Institute recently submitted a records request to obtain the most recent (2009-2010) performance evaluation for former Jefferson County Public Schools superintendent Sheldon Berman. You can read/ download this evaluation here. This was a follow up to a previous request that was a part of the investigative report, “Rewarding Failure“.
In that report we criticized the school board for providing a glowing review for Berman’s performance while failing to even MENTION the incredible number of underperforming schools in the district. This time around it was at least mentioned…
Considering very few school boards across the state even mention student performance in superintendent evaluations, the fact that disappointment was expressed by the JCPS school board is a significant step forward. Granted, it is just a couple of sentences from a multi-page document but it does represent a willingness to bring this discussion into the open and an awareness that the superintendent is the CEO of the school district.
An excellent South Carolina based transparency site has been asking some great questions about whether school superintendents are “earning their keep”. The premise of the post is that the highest paid superintendents’ districts are performing mediocre at best.
On August 2, 2011, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) released two sets of high school graduation rate data for the Class of 2010. One data set was calculated in accordance with current federal No Child Left Behind requirements, and I have already posted several blogs on that data here and here.
A second set of graduation rate data was also calculated using a Kentucky-only formula that attempts to give schools credit for students who take an extended time to earn a regular diploma and for students with learning disabilities who earn a Certificate of Completion but don’t meet the requirements for a regular diploma.
While it is worthwhile to recognize schools that stick with students who take more than the standard four years to complete high school, the Kentucky-unique formula is incorrectly described in the Briefing Packet for the new data release.
Furthermore, there are some important assumptions being made that the briefing packet also fails to mention. It remains to be seen if those assumptions prove valid once we get good quality graduation rate data in 2014.
The Briefing Packet says this is the formula the KDE used (click on it to enlarge, if necessary) (Note: IEP refers to students with learning disabilities who have an Individual Education Plan that stipulates they will need more than four years to graduate from high school):
Formula KDE Claims It Used
Examination of the Excel spreadsheet “KY_AFGR” in the KDE web site shows this is not what was actually used for the calculation. Instead, the numerator also included an additional factor, called “Graduates with Diploma in 4+ years.” These non-learning disabled students earned a regular high school diploma, but they took more than four years to do so.
The KDE’s spreadsheet also implies that had some students received a Secondary GED, then those students would also have been included as graduation successes; however, in 2010 no such GEDs were awarded.
It is important to note that this formula makes some very important assumptions/projections that the Briefing Packet does not mention.
The formula assumes the cohort for the Class of 2010 will produce more graduates in the future that will exactly equal the numbers of students who entered high school before 2006-07 and then earned regular diplomas in more than four years in 2010.
Two separate groups of students are involved:
• Non-learning disabled students who entered high school before 2006-07 and took more than four years to earn a regular high school diploma
• Learning disabled students with Individual Education Plans (IEP) who entered high school before 2006-07 and took more than four years to earn a regular high school diploma
None of these students entered school in 2006-07 with the cohort of the Class of 2010. They are counted in the Kentucky AFGR formula as a predictive proxy for members of the cohort of the Class of 2010 who have yet to graduate. Again, we’ll have to wait until 2014 – and the first accurate graduation rate data based on high quality student tracking systems – to find out how well these approximations really work.
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