“The worst deficit comes from a recession. And if we can take the proper action at the proper time, this can be the most important step we could take to prevent another recession – that is, the right kind of a tax cut. Every dollar released from taxation that is spent or invested will help create new jobs. –President John F. Kennedy
As I wrote earlier today, the first news about Kentucky’s 2009-10 school year performance is mixed, at best.
• The percentage of schools that made Adequate Yearly Progress under NCLB is down, again.
• Proficiency rates in Kentucky Core Content Tests (KCCT) in our high schools declined in every subject except writing.
• There were also very large one-year drops in elementary school social studies and middle school science.
• However, those drops are offset by improvement in elementary and middle school levels in the other subjects.
Naturally, the excuses are starting to come.
The Herald-Leader reports that the Kentucky Department of Education says the drop in successful schools is largely due to another notable increase in the NCLB target proficiency rates in math and reading for this year.
That excuse is amplified by a mailing from the Kentucky Department of Education, which points to more discussion of the NCLB issue in this blog from Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday.
Well, I’m sorry, but those excuses really don’t work for me.
To find out why, click the “Read more” link below
To be sure, the required proficiency rates to avoid sanctions in math and reading under NCLB did go up for all school levels this year (I’ll show you those later). However, those moderately large increases occurred only because Kentucky tried to game NCLB in the early years. Our educators ‘back-loaded’ the requirements in NCLB by keeping required annual increases very low when NCLB started. Kentucky’s education leaders were hoping that NCLB would go away before the consequences of starting with many years with small targets caught up to them.
Well, the state’s education community lost that gamble. NCLB is still here.
Furthermore, our educators want you to think the supposed NCLB goal of 100 percent proficiency by 2014 is too extreme.
I’d actually agree – if Kentucky played fair on NCLB and if 100 percent was actually the target schools eventually have to meet.
But, that isn’t the case. Kentucky’s education leaders gamed this thing to the max.
Gaming with statistics
Our educators started by playing outrageous games from the start with statistics called ‘confidence intervals.’ They seriously abused those statistics, setting up a system where no school would ever need to post a proficiency rate of 100 percent to avoid sanctions under NCLB.
In fact, the Bluegrass Institute showed years ago that in some cases, schools can pass NCLB muster even though their real proficiency rates are only a fraction of the supposed 100 percent requirement. Really small enrollment schools hardly have to show any proficiency what so ever.
For example, consider Rousseau Elementary School, which is one of the schools we discussed back in the old report linked above. Rousseau’s 2010 NCLB report (accessible from pull down menus here) shows this school met all NCLB targets in 2010.
Currently, Rousseau gets over 20 confidence interval “bonus points” for reading. So, even as shown later in the table below, while the school’s NCLB supposed Annual Measurable Objective target proficiency rate in 2010 is 73.64, in fact the school is considered to have met the requirement with a real proficiency rate of only 66.67. Furthermore, the school would have been counted as meeting the requirement even if its proficiency rate in reading had been below 54 percent.
Gee, after 20 years of KERA, this school only needs to have a little more than half of its kids reading at what our watered down KCCT calls the proficient level to avoid NCLB sanctions. Is that demanding?
Gaming with enrollment changes
Kentucky continues to play another “Get Out of Jail Free Card,” allowing a school to completely avoid sanctions any time student enrollment changes by 20 percent or more.
Thanks to the busing havoc in Jefferson County, for example, between 2008 and 2009 a number of elementary schools that had been in NCLB’s lowest performing category (then called Tier 5, now renamed something else – more on THAT later) suddenly dropped off the NCLB radar screen completely.
Other districts can play this card by rezoning schools, as well.
Who says scoring proficient on the KCCT is challenging?
Finally, our educators created our KCCT, which is used for NCLB reading and math accountability, with ridiculously low standards that don’t come close to indicating that kids are on track for college and careers.
Even worse, KCCT got further inflated when scoring standards were reset in 2007, prompting a widespread loss of credibility that even our legislators could not ignore.
Meanwhile, as KCCT performance continued growing, our college remediation rates remained entirely unacceptable. The latest reported data shows 45 percent of recent high school graduates who go on to college in Kentucky need at least one remedial course as soon as they step on campus.
As I mentioned above, even our legislators understand the weaknesses in the KCCT, which is why they voted to end this inflated assessment in legislation passed in 2009.
Published goals for 2010 not that high – NOT 100 PERCENT!
It’s worthwhile pointing out exactly what those NCLB goals for our schools were for the 2009-10 school year.
The highlighted information in the table below [source BRIEFING PACKET, STATE RELEASE, NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND (NCLB), Adequate Yearly Progress Report 2009], shows the NCLB required minimum annual proficiency rate targets for reading and math for the 2009-10 school year. Notice that the percentages of required proficiency are not that large, especially when you consider that KERA has been operating for two decades and schools get bonus points from confidence intervals.
For example, in the standard configuration schools (shown inside the red box), even without confidence interval bonus points, standard configuration high schools (grades 9 to 12) only had to meet proficiency rates in reading of 59.63 percent and in math of 59.88 percent.
Throw in confidence interval bonus points and NCLB really only required around half of the students in each Kentucky high school to be proficient on the KCCT in 2010 to avoid sanctions.
Just half – after 20 years of KERA. Is this too much to expect?
And, that is judged by a watered down KCCT.
So, while I admit NCLB has some issues, we see plenty of other evidence from our low Benchmark Scores on the ACT, the EXPLORE, the PLAN, and our low proficiency rates on the National Assessment of Educational Progress along with our sky high college remedial rates that tell us more than a few Kentucky schools simply are not ‘carrying the mail’ even after two decades of KERA.
The message from Kentucky’s 2010 test results is clear – it’s time for some serious out of the box thinking. After 20 years of KERA, there are no excuses left.
- Care to take a guess at what the salary for the superintendent of Fayette County Public Schools is? Here…see for yourself.
- Don Boudreaux of Cafe Hayek really does have a way with being blunt. Once again, he hits the nail on the head with this assessment of the notion of just getting legislation passed is an accomplishment.
- Be sure to watch this debate!
High schools see many declines in KCCT scores
The first news is mixed, at best. The percentage of schools that made Adequate Yearly Progress is down, again.
The Kentucky Department of Education’s 10-052 News Release shows that in 2010 only 55.6 percent of the state’s schools reached their NCLB targets.
The BRIEFING PACKET, STATE RELEASE, NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND (NCLB), Adequate Yearly Progress Report 2009 from last year shows that 60.2 percent of the schools met that target in 2009.
Even worse, as shown in the table below, which is derived from a table in the education department’s news release, proficiency rates declined nearly across the board in our high schools from 2009 to 2010. There were also large one-year declines in the Kentucky Core Content Test (KCCT) scores in elementary school social studies and middle school science, although proficiency rates rose somewhat in the other subjects in those schools.
Naturally, excuses are being made for all of this, and I’ll discuss them in the next post.
Also, I saw comments somewhere (sorry, forgot to capture the link) that superintendents are already questioning the big drops in elementary social studies and middle school science. I don’t blame them.
So, stay tuned. There could be a scoring error in the department’s new numbers.
New web site started working around 9 AM
Data on the 2010 performance of Kentucky’s public school system is starting to flow from the Kentucky Department of Education, and the link to the promised new data collection web site activated somewhere between 7:45 and 9 AM Eastern.
Apparently, the new ‘site’ is really a single web page portal that allows quicker and easier access to existing areas of the Kentucky Department of Education’s massive web site where the actual data has always been assembled for things like NCLB scores and college readiness rates. Still, it is a nice improvement in user friendliness, and hats off to the KDE technical staff for this update.
As a note about this new portal, only the section headings are actually links, at least at this time. You won’t go anywhere if you click on the individual subjects listed under the section headings. However, once you click the section heading, a new page opens where you can access the individual data listed in that section.
Also, several newspaper sites, like those operated by the Lexington Herald-Leader and the Louisville Courier Journal, have an extensive number of articles up already. It is obvious they received access to the data several days ago. But, there is a ton of information in the new reports, and there will be plenty of work for all for some time in analyzing all of this material.
I know I’ll be analyzing and writing about this material for some time yet to come.
And, if you are into the numbers, the new portal is a good place to get an overview of what is available.