Columnist Jim Waters addresses the myth that government workers need lavish benefits packages because their salaries don’t keep up with those in the private sector.
Click here to read the latest Bluegrass Beacon column.
The Glasgow Daily Times reports that the US Department of Education is holding tight to at least one aspect of its get-tough policy on the state’s very lowest achieving schools.
An attempted appeal of a removal order for the principal at the high school in the Caverna Independent School system has been denied.
Here’s why I question the district’s attempt to keep this principal:
• Caverna’s principal has been in place for five years according to the Daily Times.
• The school failed to make adequate yearly progress in reading and mathematics for the last three years (See the school’s individual NCLB report for 2009, obtain from here.)
• The school’s 16.0 ACT Composite Score from the 11th grade testing in 2009 ranked 210 out of the 230 high schools in the state (My analysis of the 2009 ACT 11th grade testing results).
• School’s “Johns Hopkins Promoting Power Index” (a graduation rate like statistic) – 72% for the 3-Year average from 2006 to 2008. This means more than one in four students in the high school doesn’t graduate.
• Percent of students in the federal free and reduced cost school lunch program in 2009 (a poverty measure) is 57%. That ranks 777th out of the 1280 schools that had separate lunch data reported. By no means is this among the state’s highest poverty schools.
For comparison, the Boyd County High School reported 100 percent participation in the school lunch program in 2009. Boyd County’s 2009 ACT 11th Grade Composite Score was 17.5, a point and a half higher than Caverna Independent’s. Boyd’s Promoting Power Index for the 2006 to 2008 period was 79 percent.
The Associated Press reports that Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has (finally) announced seven appointments to the Kentucky Board of Education. Five of the seven nominees are new faces to the board, while only two individuals are being held over for second terms.
The most remarkable and disturbing consequence of the new appointments is that the current chairman of the Kentucky Board of Education, Wilburn “Joe” Brothers, was not reappointed. Failure to reappoint Brothers could lead to sharp changes in the board’s direction at a very critical time.
Brothers has become a strong proponent of making real change in the state’s education system. Those changes include increasing educator accountability to meet demands from both the state and the federal government for higher performing educational programs.
Those changes also include Brothers’ strong supporting position on implementing Senate Bill 1 from the 2009 Regular Legislative Session. This bill mandates extensive changes to the state’s education standards as well as the assessment and accountability program.
Removing Brothers at this time could have serious consequences for all of these important issues. At the very least, it will force a change in leadership at a critical time.
It remains to be seen whether the newly constituted board, absent Brothers, will continue to push real educational improvement.
Will this new board return to the policies of earlier years when the Kentucky Board of Education largely functioned as a rubber stamp for whatever the state’s professional educators wanted? The Associated Press report indicates that all five of the new appointees have education-related employment histories. Two are either present or past school system employees. One works for a community college. Two others currently perform as education counselors/advisors. Will this group, which comes totally from within the education community, be willing to continue the charge towards more education accountability that Brothers started?
We will be watching the new board as it gets on line. Hopefully, the new members will come to understand, as Joe Brothers did, that the board’s primary responsibility is to represent the needs of the children of Kentucky rather than the needs of the adults who work in our education complex.
Maybe the Kentucky School Board Association (KSBA) is a big fan of us collecting superintendent reviews from under-performing school districts or perhaps it makes them a bit nervous…Either way, they are continuing to report to their followers what we are doing.
I am particularly happy about the fact that they took the time to count how many districts we had posted; saved me the time.
The is page referenced in the above tweet is here. Take a look at some of these reviews and let us know if you think they are adequate. More than likely, you’ll find some of them amusing.
I was very curious about the number of responses to records requests we received from legal representation…more on this soon.
The Kentucky Long Term Policy Research Center (KLTPRC) closed its doors for the last time today. All of its funding was cut in the new state budget that goes into effect tomorrow.
While I fully appreciate the desirability of well done and insightful policy studies, it’s no secret that I have been highly critical of one set of KLTPRC reports on education. Those rank all the states on a KLTPRC-contrived ‘Education Index.’ Aside from providing a very dubious ranking system, this work basically duplicates effort that should, and does, come from another legislative agency, the Kentucky Office of Education Accountability (OEA). OEA has more resources and talent in this area and didn’t need the attempted upstaging by the KLTPRC.
Thus, at least in the education area, it looks like the KLTPRC’s demise is a win for the taxpayer.
These Policy Notes contain many statistical problems, which became much worse in our view after we notified the KLTPRC of our concerns and the agency blatantly refused to modify their index scheme.
That refusal is hard to defend. Two of the Index items should have been promptly eliminated as soon as we pointed them out.
The first unacceptable data ranking compared Kentucky’s high school dropout data against other states. The serious problem with that is that Kentucky’s dropout data was officially audited by the Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts in 2006 and found to be inaccurate.
Worse, the KLTPRC continued right on ranking these unreliable dropout numbers more than a year after we discussed both the audit and the extensive general research on the problems of state-reported high school dropout rates with the KLTPRC’s education researcher.
The second unacceptable data ranking was for the ACT college entrance test. The KLTPRC ‘Index” ranks all the states’ performance on the ACT. This is not statistically defensible because participation of high school graduates on the ACT varies dramatically from state to state.
For example, in 2009 Kentucky had 100 percent participation on the ACT while in Maine only nine percent of the high school graduates took this test (most in Maine take the SAT).
Even the ACT, Incorporated, which creates this test, specifically told us they strongly discourage doing such rankings because participation varies so widely from state to state.
But, that didn’t stop the KLTPRC, not even after we brought these serious statistical issues to their researcher’s attention over a year ago.
Then, there is some classic ‘apples to oranges’ “stuff” in the Policy Notes.
The KLTPRC uses four-years-out-of-date 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) science data for its 2009 calculations. However, KLTPRC doesn’t include any NAEP science scores in the 1992 comparison calculations.
Of course, if the seriously out-of-date science scores were not included in the KLTPRC’s 2009 Education Index, Kentucky’s ranking would be notably lower.
A somewhat similar problem shows up with the inclusion of NAEP eighth grade reading scores. They are included in the 2009 Index calculation but not in the one for 1992 (which was six years before the first administration of this particular test).
Including data in one year but not in the other year is a classic abuse of statistics. Actually, these aren’t even ‘apples to oranges’ mistakes – it’s more like comparing apples to mirages.
There is a lot more wrong with the simplistic comparison of NAEP scores in the KLTPRC’s Index. The entire process ignores the serious NAEP interpretation issues that have been created by dramatic increases in minority populations in many other states. I’ve written a lot about NAEP interpretation problems in the blog (use the search term “NAEP” in the blog’s search tool), and you can also find a nice discussion, with examples, in this freedomkentucky.org Wiki item.
Again, KLTPRC turned a deaf ear to us when we pointed out these NAEP issues last year.
I must stress that problems with its education studies does not necessarily mean that other KLTPRC projects had similar issues. However, the obviously poor quality of the KLTPRC’s education work doesn’t raise confidence, either.
Jim Waters will be speaking at the Bullitt County Tea Party Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 6pm at First Street Park across from the courthouse in Shepherdsville. A chance for all citizens to have a voice for freedom and independence.
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