- The Bluegrass Institute’s own Jim Waters had an Op/Ed published today regarding superintendent evaluations! Check it out here. The Op/Ed is yet another discussion about a severe lack of accountability in how the most highly paid and knowledgeable education officials in a district are evaluated. Read more here.
- Do you follow BIPPS on Twitter? If not, you should!
- BIPPS was mentioned today in Huffington Post regarding public pension reform. We were described as a “cookie-cutter think tank” that basically blames public-sector employees for state budget shortfalls. Not even close. You can read more about the Kentucky pension system here.
The Bluegrass Institute is watching — and exposing — what’s happening with YOUR tax dollars in Frankfort and defending your freedom in the face of ever-encroaching government policies.
I will be evaluating the 2011 session of the Kentucky General Assembly tonight at 7 p.m. (eastern) on Kentucky GrassRoots Radio. Listen in at BlogTalkRadio.com.
BTW, find the contact info for all legislators on FreedomKentucky.org, the institute’s government transparency Web site.
I’ve been assembling more comparison maps with the powerful NAEP Data Explorer tool from the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Here is one I put together to show how Kentucky’s white students’ latest available NAEP writing performance compares to white students in other states that participated (five states shown in blue plus Washington, DC, didn’t participate in this voluntary assessment). I look at whites because they comprise 85 percent of the student population in Kentucky and because with demographics in other states now very different from Kentucky’s, simplistic comparisons of overall NAEP scores are misleading.
According to the NAEP Data Explorer, after all the time we spent on writing in Kentucky, as of 2007, white students in the 31 states shown in green, including a number in the South, were doing a better job than our white students. NAEP says with a 95 percent level of confidence that all states shown in green got writing scores that were statistically significantly higher than Kentucky’s on this sampled assessment.
Twelve states tied us, including Mississippi.
Only West Virginia did worse.
Now, how is that again about all the progress?
Once again, the Prichard Committee is talking about all the educational progress we have made in Kentucky at the same time they admit we have a long way to go.
I most definitely agree with the part about having a long way to go, but I just don’t see that what has happened so far is significant.
Take a look at this graph, which shows the latest available proficiency rate scores (percentage scoring at or above Proficient) from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The full bars show the most recently reported proficiency rates by subject and grade. Inside of each bar I show the earliest available proficiency rate data for that same subject and grade (click on the graph to enlarge it, if necessary).
Overall, notice that after 19 years of KERA (17 for writing, which was last given in 2007) we generally only find about one in three students are proficient in Kentucky in the listed subjects. For eighth grade math and writing, the proficiency rate is little more than just one in four.
Now, consider where we started on grade 4 reading and math and grade 8 math in the early days of KERA (other subjects didn’t start to test until 1996 or later).
In grade 4 reading, between 1992 and 2009, a 17-year period, our proficiency rate only increased by 13 percentage points. That works out to an average improvement rate of only 0.765 point per year. At that rate, it will take us more than 70 years to reach a proficiency rate of 90 percent! Clearly, we’ve barely started on the journey towards high academic performance, and we are a long way from attaining that goal in fourth grade reading.
I have run more estimates to reach 90 percent proficiency for other subjects in the graph, and you can click the “Read more” link to see that.
Bottom line, anyone who thinks the proficiency rates in the graph above signal significant progress doesn’t have very high standards. And, it is for certain that if we don’t do something dramatic (like establishing charter schools) to stimulate the sluggardly pace of improvement in our schools, the competition is going to bury our kids.
Consider eighth grade math next. We started out with 10 percent proficiency in 1990. Nineteen years later, we have only improved to 27 percent proficiency, for an annual improvement rate of just 0.895 point per year. Once again, at that annual rate, we won’t reach 90 percent proficiency until more than 70 years down the road.
How about grade 8 reading? NAEP didn’t start to test that until 1998, when our kids were 30 percent proficient. Eleven years later, we only improved to 33 percent proficient, for an annual improvement rate of 0.273 point per year. At that dismal rate, it will take more than two centuries, yes – two centuries, to get to 90 percent proficiency.
How about grade 8 science? Here, I am concerned about comparisons over time because the NAEP changed the testing framework for science significantly for the 2009 assessment and claims the results are not backwards comparable. Still, Proficient should mean something consistent, so with that idea in mind, in 1996 only 23 percent of our students were proficient in science while in 2009 supposedly 33 percent were. This gives us an annual rate of improvement of .769 point per year. So, to reach 90 percent proficiency in grade 8 science will take around 74 more years.
You can now hear the entire exchange between Kentucky Tonight show host Bill Goodman and Representative Carl Rollins and Senator Gerald Neal as they discuss what is REALLY in a report that Rollins has been citing to support his claim that charter schools don’t work.
The pertinent comments begin at 32 minutes and 28 seconds into the video.
First, Rep. Rollins cites the same numbers, again. Then, at 34 minutes and 19 seconds, Sen. Neal says the Stanford study is the best out there.
Finally, at 34 minutes and 33 seconds, Host Goodman starts to do some real education. The lesson is short and simple.
By 35 minutes and 29 seconds, Rep. Rollins admits he now isn’t sure about what is in the CREDO report.
Then, Goodman asks Rep. Rollins the question I raised: since the CREDO study doesn’t support his assertion that charters don’t work, would Rollins be willing to hear bills on charter schools?
Sadly, instead of providing a direct answer, Rep. Rollins changes the subject to another bill that does not come close to providing Kentucky what charter legislation would.
Hopefully, as Rep. Rollins has more time to consider the real evidence – instead of relying on what teachers union people are telling him – he will come to realize that Kentucky’s children can benefit in a number of ways if we get real charter schools in this state. That is what is happening in 40 other states that already have charters.