The Kentucky House’s Education Committee discussed and approved House Bill 176 today. This bill is designed to support the state’s entry in the federal ‘Race To The Top’ funding sweepstakes.
We’ll be doing a lot of analysis of the bill, but one provision is such bad policy that we think Kentuckians need to know about it now. That provision sets a ridiculously low threshold for the high school graduation rate that identifies a “Persistently Low-Achieving school.” The bill sets that standard at a 60 percent rate or less for three or more consecutive years. In other words, a school with a graduation rate of 61 percent is no problem at all.
Clearly, whether you want to blame the feds or our local folks, if the real goal is to take action on schools with low graduation rates, HB 176 needs a lot more work.
By the way, I did HB 176 type calculations of the number of schools that fell below 60 percent, 70 percent, 75 percent and 80 percent cutoff rates using the latest available data from the Kentucky Department of Education.
Here is what I found.
The excuse I am hearing for this ridiculously low 60% figure is that it is in the definitions provided by the US Department of Education’s RTTT guidelines. This lowball rate is in the federal guidelines, but I can’t imagine anyone in Washington complaining if Kentucky sets a more realistic rate. In fact, I should think this would enhance our RTTT application.
Maybe a 60% rate makes sense somewhere, but that somewhere isn’t Kentucky.