Late this afternoon, Kentucky Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis delivered a highly candid and on target presentation on where Kentucky’s public education system stands today. A considerable portion of the message won’t surprise regular BIPPS readers. Others around the commonwealth, however, are going to be shocked and disturbed.
Dr. Lewis started by pointing out that Kentucky’s Kindergarten readiness rates have essentially been static over the past three years and gaps for different student groups are also an issue.
Lewis also discussed Kentucky’s performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), pointing out – as we have often done (such as here and here) – that Kentucky’s public education system doesn’t look so great once you separate scores for white and black students and then compare to other states. But, you can’t see this if you only look at overall average scores for all students.
In addition, Lewis’ commented that many are graduating from high school in Kentucky; however, a disturbing proportion of those graduates don’t meet muster as ready for either college or a career.
This diploma quality issue is no surprise our readers, either. After all, we’ve been talking about how to measure this problem with our “Effective High School Graduation Rate” for three years. In fact, Lewis recently Tweeted that Bluegrass Institute research in this area helped drive a new effort to finally place some quality controls on who gets a Kentucky high school diploma.
Still, while BIPPS readers won’t be surprised, the hard facts Lewis hit on today are going to provide a rude wakeup call to many in Kentucky.
So, it is refreshing to see an official Kentucky Department of Education presentation provide such an accurate and compelling picture about what is really happening in the public school system in Kentucky. This is an important step forward in transparency and to making things much better for our kids, who – as Lewis also pointed out – are, or at least need to be, the central focus of our schools.