Hints at unequal educational opportunities and minority out-migration from Kentucky
The new 2010 report on the testing of all Kentucky 11th grade students with the ACT college entrance test has been released. I’ve already posted two blogs on overall score results for all students.
Now, I’m going to shift focus to how the minorities performed. There is both good and bad news here along with some real surprises and reasons for concern.
Among those surprises and concerns –
• The number of Hispanics in 11th grade dropped in the past two years, going against all sorts of reports we have received about Hispanic migration rising in Kentucky.
• Kentucky’s 11th grade got notably “whiter” in the past two years as minority counts in the ACT testing for American Indian/Alaskan Natives, Hispanics, and Asian-American/Pacific Islanders all dropped.
• Kentucky’s black students are enrolling in courses needed for college preparation in much lower percentages than other racial groups.
To begin, along with posting the number of test takers by race and their separate ACT Composite Scores, the new ACT report also includes data on the proportions of minority students who take at least the minimum number of courses that the ACT recommends for college preparation. The ACT refers to this minimum college preparation course load as the “College Core,” or sometimes just as the “Core.”
This first table contains this data, which is found in Figure 2.4 in the ACT’s 2008 Profile Summary Report for Kentucky’s 11th grade testing and in Figure 2.4 from the 2010 Profile Summary Report.
The table shows information for both years about the number of Kentucky 11th grade students who took the ACT along with the percentage of each listed group that reported taking at least the minimum College Core course load. The table also lists the ACT Composite Score for students who took the College Core for each reported group for both 2008 and 2010.
This next table was derived from the first table. It summarizes the changes that occurred for each student group between 2008 and 2010.
First of all, one good thing is that there were more total 11th grade students in 2010 compared to 2008. That implies more students are staying in school through at least the 11th grade instead of dropping out. This will hopefully show up as better high school graduation rates in the future.
One really amazing and surprising thing is that there was a drop in the number of students in several minority categories such as American Indian/Alaskan Natives, Hispanics, and Asian-American/Pacific Islanders.
Thus, these ACT results indicate that Kentucky’s public schools are getting even more white, at least in the 11th grade. The numbers indicate that whites comprised 74.76 percent of the total 11th grade population in 2008 and by 2010 made up 76.59 percent of the total. That’s a rise of almost two points in just two years.
Certainly, the rather abrupt drop in American Indian/Alaskan Natives in Kentucky in just two years is remarkable.
Do the numbers that mean that we are experiencing a loss of minority population in Kentucky, or could this be caused by more minority dropouts from earlier high school grades?
The drop in Hispanic students, in particular, while very small, runs counter to the overall trend we have seen recently. This is definitely going to be an area for more study.
There also is a lesson in the data for what we need to do to attack our low rate of college preparation in the commonwealth. We need to find out why minorities, especially blacks, have such low rates of participation in the College Core. Why are these students not taking the courses needed to prepare for college? This is also an area where educators in the commonwealth need to do some serious study.