Even though Kentucky’s new statewide minimum high school graduation requirements were approved during the December 5, 2018 meeting of the Kentucky Board of Education, the subject continues to draw major attention and controversy.
I was party to a discussion on the Kentucky Tonight October 15, 2018 show about what was then being proposed for the minimum statewide high school graduation requirements,
pointing out with some of the 2018 data in the table below that even the very latest high school graduation data shows many of the Class of 2018 were not prepared to transition to what would come next in their lives.
For example, while Kentucky posted an impressive 90.3 percent high school graduation rate in 2018 for all students averaged together, only 60.2 percent of those graduates were able to meet muster under at least one of about 11 ways they could prove they were ready to transition to the next thing in their lives, be that college or work. Combining those two figures, we calculate a “Transition-Ready Graduation Rate” for the state of only 54.4 percent, which is 35.9 percentage points lower than the officially reported graduation rate.
That sort of misleading information helps public education fool us about how they actually perform, but it doesn’t do the commonwealth any good to have under-educated young adults who can’t hold a job or survive in college.
So, it is clear that the state needs to tighten up the standards for what it takes to get a high school diploma.
And, a very small amount of tightening might, or might not, have been achieved with the final standards approved in early December.
But, the controversy, and the questions, continue.
I just appeared on WLLV Radio Friday to talk about the new standards, fielding questions from show host Jerry Stephenson and call-in listeners.
Now, we see Kentucky Tonight is also taking up the subject of the new graduation requirements tomorrow night at 8 pm Eastern time. Among the guests will be Kentucky Board of Education member (and Bluegrass Institute Board of Scholars member) Gary Houchens.
It will be interesting to hear the discussion. Because, as the table above shows, our state is passing out an awful lot of Hollow Diplomas, and the watered-down final version of the new graduation standards, which are only a shadow of what was originally proposed, might not be nearly good enough to change things very much.
In fact, the new standards might more be a demonstration of the powerful status quo forces’ impact on education in Kentucky, where true change comes incredibly slowly with real educational progress moving at about the pace of an arthritic snail.