On Wednesday the Kentucky Board of Education considers a final rule for actual, enforceable standards for what it takes to earn a high school diploma in Kentucky. And, while there probably will never be a perfect answer to exactly what those requirements should be, recently released assessment and accountability results for 2017-18 reinforce the very clear need to do something – now – to greatly improve the credibility of the state’s high school graduation diploma. If you want to see this compelling information, just click the “Read more” link.
(FRANKFORT, Ky.) – The Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s first and only free-market think tank, is asking all candidates campaigning for General Assembly seats during this fall’s election to pledge support for bringing a greater level of transparency to Kentucky’s troubled public pension system.
The Institute recently sent – and asks all incumbents and challengers to sign – an 84-word pledge vowing to back “making the Kentucky Retirement Systems, Teachers’ Retirement System and Judicial Form Retirement System fully transparent, including requiring the disclosure of names, status and projected actual retirement beneﬁts and beneﬁt payments from the Kentucky Employees Retirement System, Teachers’ Retirement System, State Police Retirement System, County Employees Retirement System and Judicial Retirement Plan.”
The pledge should be signed and sent to the Bluegrass Institute at P.O. Box 11706, Lexington, KY 40577-1706 by Oct. 17. The Institute’s address is clearly indicated in the middle of the pledge. A self-addressed stamped envelope was included to assist candidates in promptly mailing their signed pledge.
“Now that legislators’ pensions are subject to the Open Records Act, it’s time to shine the light on the commonwealth’s other retirement systems,” Bluegrass Institute president and CEO Jim Waters said. “We need the information regarding members’ anticipated or actual benefits in order to bring further badly needed reforms to one of the nation’s most severe public pension crises.”
Despite historic increases in pension funding in recent years – $3.3 billion, or 15 percent of the current budget – the level of members’ benefits has remained largely secretive.
“Increased funding demands greater transparency and accountability,” Waters said. “Making information about members’ benefits subject to open-records policies will offer relevant information needed to offer sound policies for properly and effectively reforming the retirement systems.”
Copies of the pledge were sent to the addresses listed by candidates with the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office when filing for this year’s election and to those included on the bio pages of lawmakers not appearing on the Nov. 8 ballot. Retiring lawmakers or those who lost their primary bids also are being asked to sign the pledge since most of them will soon be benefiting from taxpayer-funded retirement benefits.
The Institute will reveal by the end of October who did and did not sign the pledge, ensuring voters know who does and does not support open government.
For more information, please contact Jim Waters at email@example.com, 859.444.5630 ext. 102 (office) or 270.320.4376.
Kentucky’s new assessment and accountability information was released to the public today, and one area of great interest involves the schools that were identified as lowest performing under the “Comprehensive Support and Improvement” (CSI) category.
The issue to be addressed here is that not all of the new CSI schools are really equal. In fact, a number of the new CSI schools were in trouble under the old Priority Schools system right up to the end of that program and apparently still are doing rock-bottom compared to the rest of the state. I think these Priority-CSI schools need special consideration and attention going forward, but it doesn’t look like the Kentucky Department of Education is on top of this one, so far. Hopefully, that will change.
To learn more about this issue and to see which schools went straight from Priority to CSI status, just click the “Read more” link.
Drop is notable
Is this fallout from Common Core?
I am just starting to decode the rather different Excel spreadsheets that show the Kentucky assessment and accountability results for 2017-18, but something just jumped off the pages of an Excel about ACT scores that needs a quick note.
One of the new Excels contains the ACT scores for all students for each year since 2007-08 that Kentucky has tested all the 11th graders with this college entrance test. The table shows how the statewide data has trended over time.
There is a real issue here. The newest scores show notable drops across the board for all areas tested. The 2017-18 ACT Composite has dropped back to where we were before 2014, wiping out four years of slow progress.
Another Excel spreadsheet shows that now only 38.9 percent of Kentucky’s 11th graders met the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education’s (CPE) fairly undemanding Benchmark Score to be able to avoid some sort of remediation/extra work in math in college and less than half the graduates, 47.1 percent, met the CPE muster for reading.
For sure, drops in these ACT numbers aren’t good news, and the situation adds to concerns that the state’s continued infatuation with Common Core-like standards might be having detrimental impacts on students.
Amount of social promotion to diploma still varies widely by student group
The 2018 assessment and accountability data has now been released by the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), and there are a huge number of changes. Many trend lines are now gone, including all of the high school end-of-course exam trends for English II (also formerly used for reading), Algebra II (Formerly used for math), biology (formerly the science data) and US History (formerly also social studies scoring). New science tests were used for the first time in elementary and middle schools, as well. And, of course, the overall Unbridled Learning school accountability scores and rankings died last year and the new system of star ratings (from 1 to 5) and other things won’t come online for at least one more year.
Along with many other changes, the KDE dropped its former calculation of the College and/or Career Ready Rate for each year’s high school graduates. That also kills our former calculation of the Effective High School Graduation Rate, as well.
But, we are introducing a new statistic based on the replacement for the College and/or Career Ready Rate (CCR), which is now shown as the Transition Ready Rate. This new statistic, while similar in concept to the old CCR rate, is actually calculated in a very different way. Thus, the KDE states the two should not be considered comparable, and I think that will definitely prove correct over time.
So, it is time for a new calculation, one that shows the percentage of entering ninth grade students who are graduating on time four years later with a sufficient education to qualify under one of nearly a dozen ways a student can be officially declared “Transition Ready.” Fortunately, the new calculation is quite similar to the old one, except now we multiply the still-being-reported 4-Year Adjusted Cohort High School Graduation Rate (ACGR) by the new Transition Ready rate and move the decimal point accordingly to develop what we will now call the:
TRANSITION-READY GRADUATION RATE (TRGR, which will undoubtedly quickly be pronounced “Trigger”).
Table 1 shows you the information for the 2017-18 TRGR calculations by various student groups. The source data for this is found in Tables 12 and 14 in the Kentucky Department of Education’s BRIEFING PACKET, STATE RELEASE, 2017-2018 Assessment and Accountability Results, dated September 26, 2018.
The first data column in the table shows the KDE’s officially reported Transition Ready percentages for various student graduate groups. These rates vary quite a lot, running from a high of 65.4 percent of whites who are Transition Ready to only 24.5 percent of students with disabilities who are able to meet even one of the numerous ways to be declared Transition Ready. That is a variation of 40.9 points.
The next column shows the 4-Year ACGR for various student groups from the KDE. These official numbers don’t vary nearly as much, running from a high of 95.1 for Asian students to a low of 74.7 for the learning-disabled group, a difference of only 20.4 points, half the variation seen in the Transition Ready figures. That actually looks pretty good compared to rates being reported in other states, but this is misleading, as we now show in the rest of the table.
The next column shows my calculation of the Transition-Ready Graduation Rate for each student group. Note that these rates vary dramatically from a high of 60.1 percent for white students to a low of just 18.3 percent for students with learning disabilities. That’s a spread of 41.8 points, which is even worse than the spread in the official Transition Ready numbers.
When you consider that even for the state’s white students, only about 60 percent of the entering ninth graders that should have been in the Class of 2018 actually graduated on time with a diploma that had at least a minimal amount of readiness for what comes next in life behind it, these are pretty scary statistics. But, it gets worse.
The last column in the table shows the difference between the officially reported high school graduation rates and our new TRGR. Ideally, if there were no social promotion for a student group, the number in this column would be zero. The higher the number in this column, the more social promotion to a diploma is going on for the related student group. Not one student group has anything close to a zero difference between its official 4-year grad rate and its TRGR. Even for whites, there is a 31.8-point gap between the proportion of students getting a piece of paper and the proportion of those graduates who arguably got at least a minimally successful education. For other groups, the gap becomes rather enormous.
And, it is particularly troubling that Kentucky’s African-American graduates in 2018 had about the same, very high amount of social promotion to a diploma that we see for the students with disabilities.
So, the bottom line here is even the revised statistics for 2018 make it abundantly clear that Kentucky has a huge problem with social promotion to high school diplomas, and that problem is even more severe for the state’s various student subgroups.
Keep that in mind the next time someone around you starts cheering about Kentucky’s high school graduation rate exceeding national averages. What Kentucky really might excel in is providing more rather hollow pieces of paper to students who never really got an education.
And, stay tuned. There will be a lot more once I get a chance to dig into the data more extensively.
Which Kentucky education funding source – local, state or federal – saw the largest increase between 2008 and 2017?
And, which funding source provides the largest share of overall education dollars?
I got prompted by a Twitter discussion to look at something that turned out to be a real surprise. It certainly didn’t work out the way those who fuss about Kentucky’s education funding would like us to believe.
Very simply, when we look at the separate contributions to total per pupil funding from local, state and federal sources, officially audited and released financial reports from the Kentucky Department of Education indicate it’s the state, not local tax sources, that provides the majority of education funding in Kentucky. In addition, the state’s contribution has actually grown larger compared to local funding since the Great Recession hit.