I’ve been writing over the past day about the new High School Feedback Reports from the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE). For parents and others who want information about how their high school is doing in preparing kids for college, this information is a gold mine.
One of the more interesting areas of the CPE Feedback Report web pages is the one where you can download reports for individual schools.
Each school has a separate, 5-page report loaded with information on 2008 high school graduates such as:
• How many kids the school graduated,
• How many went to college and college-going rates,
• ACT scores for kids who got accepted to college, and
• The percent of students from the school who arrived at college unprepared in various key subjects.
There are some cautionary tales in the data.
For example, here is the “Percent not Ready for College by Subject” graph for the Shawnee High School in Louisville (click on the graph to enlarge).
Shawnee has been officially designated as one of Kentucky’s ‘Persistently Low-Achieving Schools,’ making it among the 10 worst in the state. Shawnee only sent 33.7 percent of its graduates on to college, with the lion’s share, 29.2 percent, going to in-state schools. Those in-state college bound students had astronomically bad preparation for college.
For example, the far left brown bar shows 63.6 percent of Shawnee’s in-state college freshmen were unprepared for a credit-bearing college English course, and a notably higher 72.7 percent were not ready for a credit-bearing course in mathematics.
After 20 years of KERA, that is simply gross.
If you want to see how some better schools perform, click the “Read more” link.
For our first comparison, here is the same type of graph for the premier magnet school in Louisville, the DuPont Manual High School.
Notice the brown bars for this school’s data are quite small, but still not non-existent. Manual sent 86.7 percent of its graduates on to college, with 55.5 percent going in-state. Still, even though this is Louisville’s most selective public high school, the CPE says over one out of ten students arrived at Kentucky campuses without the full preparation they needed in the three key subjects of reading, English and math.
Finally, here is the graph for one of Northern Kentucky’s better private schools, the Covington Catholic High School.
While it is important not to take these comparisons too far (the out-of-state attendance for Cov Cath and Manual are significant and could alter these graphs if considered in detail), the main point is the performance gap between the best and worst is truly dramatic.
Thus, after nearly two decades of KERA, it is brutally clear that phenomenal achievement gaps remain in Kentucky’s public school system. Why do educators thus continue to fight parental choice options like charter schools? If Shawnee High School had been converted to a charter school, it would have had the option to do really dramatic things to help its kids start to close gaps.
Instead, with the school still trapped in the entanglement of public school bureaucracy and union contract red tape, we are reading about kids in Shawnee having to forego real chemistry classes just so they can get caught up on reading skills.