The new ACT reports for the high school graduating class of 2017 have been publicly released, and there will be a lot to talk about concerning these important college readiness test results in the seventh year after Kentucky adopted the Common Core State Standards, which were supposed to dramatically improve college preparation.
Certainly, progress towards college readiness seems to have gone flat in Kentucky. Even the Kentucky Department of Education’s News Release about the new ACT scores says:
“(Kentucky Commissioner of Education Steven) Pruitt said this year’s flat ACT scores reinforce that the timing is right for Kentucky to take a serious look at its graduation requirements and move forward with a new accountability system that is designed to promote and hold schools and districts accountable for student achievement and significantly reduce achievement gaps (Underline for emphasis added).”
The department’s News Release emphasizes that racial achievement gaps are currently a hot concern in Kentucky. So, let’s look at the trends in the white minus black ACT achievement gaps from 2013 to the present. I only look back to 2013 because ACT changed its reporting format in that year, including for the first time scores for students who got more than the standard time to complete this college entrance test. As a result, the current data isn’t strictly comparable to years prior to 2013. Still, this covers the major portion of time that Common Core was really impacting Kentucky’s classrooms, as the state began Common Core-aligned testing in reading, writing and mathematics just one year prior in the 2011-12 school term.
Figure 1 shows how the overall ACT Composite Score trends look for all of Kentucky’s whites and blacks for high school graduates from public, private and home schools in the years of 2013 through 2017.
As you can see, scores for both white and black students slowly increased over the past five years, but the achievement gap in 2017 has been basically flat, no better than it was back in 2014 (I highlighted the 2014 gap for emphasis).
Essentially, the ACT Composite Score achievement gap for whites versus blacks in the Bluegrass State hasn’t changed appreciably in half a decade of Common Core impacts in Kentucky.
Also note that the white scores look like they indeed are going flat. If that had not happened, the black gap trend would look even worse. We don’t want gaps closing only because white scores are staying stagnant.
I have similar graphs for the individual subjects tested by ACT, as well (English, Math, Reading and Science). Click the “Read more” link to see those.