I’m getting into the numbers from the new 2009 NCLB report for Kentucky, and the overall results look strange. To put it mildly, either our elementary schools are doing a bang up job while our middle and high schools are in real trouble, or our elementary school level assessments are far too easy and hide the fact that poorly educated graduates of the state’s elementary schools create unsolvable burdens for our middle and high schools.
Here is a rundown on the percentage of schools by school level that met their NCLB goals.
However, there are several “flies in the ointment.” First, due to some loopholes on minimum student group sizes to report NCLB scores, elementary schools have an unfair advantage in the comparison above.
In addition, the elementary schools do better only if – and it’s a big if – the Kentucky Core Content Tests (KCCT) upon which the NCLB is based are balanced and accurate across all school levels.
Therein lies the rub. Is the big elementary school advantage in the graph above due to a really dramatic performance difference, or is this a result of a comparatively easier KCCT tests for elementary schools?
Unfortunately, it is going to be a while before we get recent comparison data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to help answer this question. While NAEP tested state-level reading, math and science in late winter of 2009, the results are currently scheduled to dribble out rather slowly over the next nine months or so.
In any event, regardless of possible differentials in test difficulty by school level, the middle and high school information in the graph above is simply too serious to ignore. Sadly, the poor high school numbers agree all too well with the completely unacceptable rate of college freshmen requiring remediation in Kentucky.
Clearly, the new NCLB data shows that, overall, we are a long, long way from where Kentucky education needs to be. It is time to consider some really different approaches to get where we need to go.
Stay tuned, because we have a lot more to say about the new NCLB results, including the possibility that some of the state’s very lowest performing schools just got an NCLB “Get Out of Jail Card” that wiped out their accountability. I’ll have more on that later.