I posted several blog items on a new federal report here and here that examine the achievement gaps between Blacks and Whites in Kentucky and other states. The federal report shows that those gaps in Kentucky remain a significant problem almost two decades after the passage of KERA. In fact, the eighth grade math Black/White gap here has very dramatically increased since KERA’s enactment in 1990.
However, the real messages in the federal report can be confusing. Yesterday morning, the Lexington Herald-Leader ran an article about the report titled “Ky., South successful in closing racial gap.” The opening paragraph said, “Southern states are closing the gap between how black and white students perform on tests – and Kentucky is no exception.”
That certainly wasn’t correct, because, as the graphs here clearly show, Kentucky has not closed the racial gap in either fourth or eighth grade math or in fourth grade reading (federal testing on eighth grade reading didn’t start until well after KERA was enacted).
So, I called the Herald-Leader to see if they would review the report with me and update their story. The reporter who wrote the original story wasn’t available, but senior newsman John Stamper came on the line and we went through the report together.
By mid-afternoon, the story was updated. It had a more accurate title, and some of my comments were added to point out that a smaller gap does not show our schools are doing a good job since that smaller gap only exists because our White kids also score very low.
So, a “Hats Off” to John Stamper at the Herald-Leader for taking time out of his busy day to listen and follow through to insure the people of Kentucky got a more accurate description of the new federal report. Achievement gaps continue to be one of the major problems with KERA, and effective answers continue to elude our educators. The public deserves to know that.