Kentucky’s real progress (?) on the National Assessment of Educational Progress – Obviously needed update Part 2
As mentioned in the first blog in this series, I had a chance to participate on August 13, 2018 on KET’s Kentucky Tonight program on education, and it was an interesting time.
Three minutes into the broadcast, show guest Dr. Steven Gordon mentioned that in a new report he co-authored with BIPPS Scholar Dr. John Garen that they found test score gains in Kentucky had only been modest at best on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). This got questioned at 5 minutes 30 seconds into the broadcast by Brigit Ramsey of the Prichard Committee, who said Kentucky had been at the bottom on education indicators in the 1980s and that our state has now risen to the middle of the pack on things like NAEP.
Well, not really.
My earlier blog talked about comparisons with other states over time, but I also think we should look at how Kentucky compares against itself over time.
Figure 1 information, derived from data in the NAEP Data Explorer web tool, shows how our state trended between 2015 and 2017.
As you can see, the NAEP’s best estimates for proficiency rates in Kentucky on Grades 4 and 8 reading and math mostly went negative or stayed flat. The only improvements, and only by one percentage point in each case, was for the all student average score in Grade 8 Math and for blacks in Grade 8 reading. The rest of the changes all are highlighted in red because they stayed flat or went in the wrong direction.
In fairness, none of the changes are large enough for the NAEP to declare them statistically significant, but with so many results trending in the wrong direction, there is cause for concern even if from a statistical viewpoint the scores all stayed flat. After all, with things like black Grade 8 NAEP Math proficiency running only around 9 to 12 percent, who can be satisfied with flat performance over time?
This, after 27 years of KERA reforms and about five years of Common Core based curriculum in the state’s classrooms is not happy news.