The plan to give a coordinated set of tests from the ACT, Incorporated to boost college preparation of Kentucky’s students seems to be working, at least for three of four academic subjects. These tests, known as “EPAS tests,” have been given to all of Kentucky’s eighth grade and tenth grade students since the fall of 2006.
A longitudinal comparison of the percentages of students scoring at or above the Benchmark scores that signal adequate preparation for college is shown in this figure. The same group of students took both tests in different years.
These students made notable improvement in performance in English between their eighth and tenth grade year. Improvement is also evident in the percentage of students who increased readiness for college level reading and science courses.
The only performance decline was in mathematics, a perennial problem subject in Kentucky.
While this first-time analysis looks at the performance of only one class, it is generally encouraging and hints that the law establishing this new testing program in Kentucky may indeed spur more students to be fully prepared for college. We will learn more next year when this same group of students takes the ACT college entrance test next spring, completing their journey through the new EPAS program.
The percentages above were computed by subtracting the cumulative percentage of students scoring just below the benchmark scores in each subject from 100 percent. The cumulative percentages are found in Table 1a in the respective years’ EXPLORE and PLAN profile summary reports.
The Courier-Journal’s news article about the Bluegrass Institute’s news conference yesterday concerning the new report on Kentucky’s lowest performing schools under No Child Left Behind contains a remarkable set of comments from the Kentucky Department of Education.
Says the Courier, Kentucky’s new education commissioner, Dr. Terry Holliday, is actively considering bringing charter schools to Kentucky. He (undoubtedly assisted by department staff members) is “examining potential costs, oversight rules and other issues surrounding charter schools.”
Department spokesperson Lisa Gross also said that, “We’re not anti-charter, and we support looking into them.”
Perhaps so, but this is the first time I ever recall seeing anything about the department even exploring the idea of charter schools. Certainly, this is good news, and, as Kentucky’s leading organization pushing charter schools, the Bluegrass Institute hopes to interface with this exciting new effort that, done right, offers notable promise of improving education in Kentucky.
Here is WAVE 3 TV coverage of the press conference for the release of the new Bluegrass Institute report on the performance of Kentucky’s No Child Left Behind Tier 5 schools.
There is a link on this page to the one-minute On-Air coverage from August 24, 2009.
You can read the report itself by clicking here.