Jim Waters, director of policy and communications, will host The Pulse on NewsRadio 630 WLAP-AM Monday thru Wednesday, August 17-19, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Listen online at www.wlap.com.
I wrote yesterday about the percentages of students in our public high schools that were adequately prepared for math in college based on newly released testing of Kentucky 11th grade students from the ACT.
Now, here are the top and bottom 20 schools for ACT science. The tables show the percentage of students who reached the ACT Benchmark score in science (24) that indicates a student should have good odds of passing a freshman course in biology.
The findings here are consistent with the math results.
First, just as we saw for math, it is painfully evident that where a child goes to school can have an enormous impact on learning. Some schools get far more students ready for college science than others do, and sometimes that vast difference can be found within a single school district.
Second, promises in KERA have not been kept. Twenty years later, too many students remain trapped in schools where few, if any, children are being adequately prepared for college.
Third, as was true for math, these science ACT results provide compelling evidence that Louisville’s school busing plans have been a failure. Louisville schools are liberally located in both the top 20 and bottom 20 lists above. If busing worked, the performance of schools in Louisville would be roughly equal. It most definitely isn’t.
The ACT results show something is terribly wrong with our schools, and parents badly need more options on where they can have their children educated.
A new poll conducted by the Friedman Foundation indicates that parents of all political stripes and economic groups want more choices when it comes to educating their children.
Click here to read the entire column.
– Careful planning leads to tight budget and a TAX CUT!
Hats off to the local board of education and the entire crew at the Beechwood Independent School District.
On top of having one of the very best educational programs in Kentucky, the district has accomplished that with one of the more modest, but well-managed budgets in the state.
Now, just when hard-pressed taxpayers in the district need it, thanks to Beechwood’s great fiscal management, the district has actually approved a TAX CUT at the very same time other districts up and down the state are screaming that they need still more money.
Beechwood Superintendent Glen Miller is quick to point out that the district has not sacrificed academics to make this happen, and there is great evidence that he is refreshingly on target with that statement (how many others have promised the same, only to produce continuing poor results?).
For example, I blogged yesterday about the top and bottom performing high schools on the recent ACT 11th grade math testing in Kentucky.
Beechwood High School was number one in the state among Kentucky’s 233 public high schools for the percentage of students who are ready for college math. NUMBER ONE!
I’ll post the ACT science results later today, but Beechwood was NUMBER THREE in the state for the percentage of students on track to pass their first college level science course. WOW!
Beechwood High also ranked NUMBER ONE on ACT reading and NUMBER ONE on ACT English for the percentage of kids ready for college in those academic areas. WOW!
Beechwood High’s school accountability index ranked NUMBER EIGHT in Kentucky on the now defunct CATS assessments in 2008, as well.
While CATS is now gone, if the assessment had continued, Beechwood High’s school accountability index of 95.9 meant the school could have made no further improvement all the way to 2014 and it still would have avoided all sanctions and would actually have been considered to have met its CATS goals.
And, the school accomplished all of this remarkable academic performance despite the fact that in 2008 the entire school district’s per pupil funding for current expenses ranked only 159 out of 174 school districts.
Kentucky’s new education commissioner needs to look at what is happening in Beechwood right away. Beechwood gets it right, and they do it economically.
New results from ACT testing of all Kentucky’s 11th grade students expose enormous gaps in performance in Kentucky’s high schools.
The two tables below were developed from an Excel file from the Kentucky Department of Education.
The tables show the ACT math performance for the 20 best and 20 worst high schools in the state. Each table shows the percentage of students in each school that reached the ACT Benchmark score of 22 in math. That score indicates students are likely to get passing grades in a credit bearing freshman college algebra course.
In the top 20 listing, note that school size isn’t a terribly important indicator of performance. That goes against ideology that was heavily pushed in some quarters that smaller schools are better. For example, both the very large Paul Laurence Dunbar High School and the tiny Paintsville High had virtually identical success in preparing their students for college level math work.
On a very disappointing note, observe that only a handful of schools in the state prepare more than half of their students for college math. That’s lousy performance any way you look at it.
At the other end of the spectrum, some of Kentucky’s high schools do an absolutely deplorable job in teaching math to all students. In some cases, none of the students in these schools are being adequately prepared for this key college subject. This means all of those schools’ graduates are locked out of the critical Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics career fields. That’s not just bad for the students – it is also bad for Kentucky’s economy.
Notice as well that school size doesn’t seem to have much relationship to the way math is instructed in these bottom-performing schools, either. Tiny schools are interspersed with much larger enrollment schools, just as happens with the list of the top performers.
First, it is painfully evident that where a child goes to school can have an enormous impact on learning.
Second, it is also evident that nearly two decades after the start of KERA, the promise of high performance for all our children is woefully not being kept. When students are trapped in schools where not even a single child is being adequately prepared for college, something is terribly wrong, and parents badly need more options on where they can have their children educated.
Third, the ACT results provide compelling evidence that Louisville’s school busing plans have been a failure. Louisville schools are liberally located in both the top 20 and bottom 20 lists above. If busing worked, the performance of schools in Louisville would be roughly equal. It most definitely isn’t.
The courts looking at Louisville need to come to grips with the very evident truth in the new ACT data. Busing will not fix bad schools. Busing just perpetuates the existence of those bad schools while they continue to mess up student lives. The only difference is that with busing, a slightly different, bused in group of children suffers. But, the education failure continues.
Several other states conduct ACT testing of all their 11th grade students with the ACT college entrance test. Here is how we compare to two states that have published recent data just for their 11th grade ACT administration.
Data Sources: KY, CO, and MI Department of Education Web sites
Note in particular that while Kentucky LOST ground between 2008 and 2009, Michigan GAINED ground
Note: Colorado 2009 data not yet available