New accountability program will include assessment of gap performance
The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) made a lot of comments about the state’s endemic achievement gaps during the Kentucky Board of Education’s August meeting and retreat.
This discussion started with Associate Commissioner Ken Draut’s presentation during the retreat part of the meeting. Ken provided a nice review of the many different performance gaps for student groups in Kentucky using a detailed, 25-page handout titled “Academic Performance Data.” This handout is available in two parts, Part 1, with Pages 1 to 19, and Part 2, with Pages 20 to 25.
Ken’s handouts have lots of data on the gaps from such indicators as the Kentucky Core Content Tests, graduation rates (using the credible Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate formula instead of our old, inflated calculation), the ACT college entrance test and the ACT’s EXPLORE and PLAN tests and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
I capture just a small amount of Ken’s presentation in these two graphs, which show the gaps on the Kentucky Core Content Test (KCCT) in reading and mathematics.
Several things stand out in the reading graph. First, Asian students do notably better than whites at all school levels, but the trend gets more favorable to Asians in the upper grades. What do we need to harness from our Asian students and transplant to our whites?
Note, as well, that in Kentucky Hispanic-white gaps are notably lower than African-American to white gaps. However, the Limited English Proficiency (LEP) student’s gaps are much worse than the African-American to white gaps. Only students with learning disabilities have larger gaps.
Also notice that the gaps by racial group vary dramatically.
Here is the graph for mathematics.
The trends are generally similar, with one added note. The KCCT’s Female Vs. Male gaps in Kentucky favor females, which is definitely not what we find in other testing such as the NAEP, where males in Kentucky do better than the females. The differences are small for the sexes, but there may be an indication here of potential bias in the KCCT results by sex.
In any event, it is clear from the graphs above and the very extensive data presented in Academic Performance Data that Kentucky needs to pay attention to its persistent education gaps. Thus, it is good to see that gaps are a specific highlight area in the state’s strategic plan, which I mentioned in an earlier blog. It is also good to hear that the department intends to include a separate metric for gaps in the state’s new public school accountability program.