The Kentucky Board of Education held its first meeting with its five recently appointed members, and the Department of Education Staff did a really nice job with a series of morning briefings on the state of education in the state.
Three main areas were covered in the morning briefings:
• Academic performance and plans for future school and district report cards
• Fiscal environment
• Political environment
I was pleased by the level of candor and information in these very worthwhile, 45 minute presentations.
The Bluegrass Institute was even singled out in the political environment discussions as the department’s example of groups advocating for education policies. That presentation also provided the board members with copies of Professor John Garen’s recent Bluegrass Institute Perspective on “Introducing more choices in education.”
Clearly, the department considers the institute as part of the important landscape in Kentucky.
The afternoon meeting was kicked off with a top-notch Power Point briefing by Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday about the strategic plan for education in the commonwealth. Once again, the honesty and candor were very welcome.
These various briefings covered a lot of specific information, some of which I’ll cover in future blogs. But, one item that I have been campaigning on for a long time now seems to be settled: As I have been pointing out for years, most recently only a few days ago, the graduation rate the department has been reporting is considerably higher than what we will see once high accuracy information becomes available in 2013. The Department of Education now admits that. Commissioner Holliday and others warned the board that we will indeed see the current graduation rate drop by about 10 points once more accurate reporting starts. Holliday estimates that the true graduation rate is only in the low 70 percent region (which clearly is not the 84 percent area the department previously has been reporting).
The Commissioner and other staff members also confirmed that the department is going to switch next year to the Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate formula that the US Department of Education and yours truly have been pushing. Because this is a much more accurate estimation formula than Kentucky’s old one, the Commissioner warned that rates reported in 2011 will also be much lower than before.
It’s taken too long to happen, but it looks like the department under Commissioner Holliday’s lead is starting to get really serious about assembling and analyzing higher quality data on education. That can only bode good things in the future for Kentucky’s students.
One sad note was that board member C.B. Akins was absent due to recent, very serious surgery. We at the institute wish him a speedy recovery.