– But, how bad?
The 2009 report of the second year of testing for Achieve’s Algebra II exam are in, and this year Achieve also reports on the first year of testing with its Algebra I exam.
Only a small proportion of the Kentucky kids who were tested did well on the Algebra II exam. Over 91 percent of our kids scored so low that their preparation was graded as “Needs Preparation” instead of the grades “Prepared” or “Well Prepared.” Only 1,384 of the estimated 45,350 Kentucky students who took Algebra II were tested by Achieve. That’s a healthy drop from last year when 2,019 Kentucky students took the exam.
Things weren’t much better for the new Algebra I exam. About one out of four Kentucky kids were considered proficient in the entry level algebra coursework. Only 520 of Kentucky’s estimated 54,160 Algebra I students last year took the Achieve test, a much lower percentage than the Algebra II statistic.
Sadly, as is far too often the case, there is a serious problem in making any state to state comparisons with the new Achieve algebra data. Only a handful of Kentucky students participated, and it doesn’t sound like those who did take part could be considered a random sample, either.
Were Kentucky’s kids hand-picked to make us look as good as possible?
Did only Kentucky schools with top performance have the courage to participate?
Were there only weak schools in the test pool?
I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I do know that the number of students tested in each exam were much lower than the number of students the National Assessment of Educational Progress uses in its sampling of state education performance (usually running around 2,500 to 3,000, selected as a reasonable random sample, as well).
So, for now, the Kentucky algebra numbers from Achieve just sort of hang there in space. What does it really mean? Who knows?