Jim Waters, Bluegrass Institute director of policy and communications, will appear on KET’s “Kentucky Tonight” on Monday at 8 p.m. (EST) to address the possibility of a special legislative session. Waters will be joined in his call for more responsible tax-and-spending policies by Andy Hightower, executive director of the Kentucky Club for Growth. Watch the program hosted by Bill Goodman live on KET1 on Monday at 8 p.m. (eastern). It will be replayed Wednesday at 2 a.m. (eastern). During the live Monday broadcast, viewers with questions and comments participate by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Other panelists include Dana Beasley-Brown of the Kentuckians For The Commonwealth and Mary Ann Blankenship of the Kentucky Education Association, the state teachers union.
Lexington attorney Kent Masterson Brown went to Washington D.C. last Friday for a hearing in a very important case. If he wins, Americans will be able to opt out of Medicare.
This case continues quietly as most of our elected officials on the national level are trying to force all Americans onto “free” government insurance.
– State’s student tracking software has major problem
Infinite Campus is the new student tracking software program that the Kentucky Department of Education just brought on line.
– Well, sort of.
It turns out the software is fouling up the calculation of absolutely critical average daily attendance figures for every school district in Kentucky.
Those figures are essential because a significant amount of the money that each district gets from the state is determined from them.
Henry County Schools superintendent Tim Abrams indicated to his board that they need to get this fixed by May 30th to stay on track for submitting next year’s budget.
Right now, just in Henry County they get numbers anywhere from 1920 to 2000 when they run the average daily attendance calculation. That 80 student difference might not sound like a lot until you realize this is just for one district, and with current state revenue for Henry County running $5,440 per pupil, the difference could change what this small district gets by nearly half a million dollars next year.
Chalk another one up for “Infinite Heartburn.”
Say what you will about it, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) definitely renewed interest in high school graduation rates. That new interest comes none too soon, because far too many kids in Kentucky and around the rest of the country are not graduating from high school. In today’s economy this spells trouble not only for the dropouts, but also for all of us who have to support their increased social needs and extraordinarily high rates of incarceration.
Recently, there has been a trend in some quarters to overstate the improvement in graduation rates in Kentucky. Some folks are coming up with all sorts of graduation rate calculations that show dramatic improvement.
Those numerical exercises have a host of problems. Some rely on US Census data, which is seriously corrupted for this use because the Census counts GED recipients as diploma holding high school graduates (something NCLB specifically does not allow with its graduation rates). Census also relies on people providing sensitive information about family education levels to a total stranger on a telephone.
Most of the other inflated presentations use numbers from the Kentucky Department of Education, but these conveniently ignore data prior to the year 2000 – perhaps unintentionally, perhaps with good reason. The graph below shows why.
A reasonable calculation of graduation rates over time that corrects for the impact of students who are held back in the ninth grade produces results shown by the blue line in the figure below.
The blue line shows that Kentucky’s public high school graduation rates are only a few points higher today than they were in the early days of KERA. About all we have accomplished at this point is to recover from a very dramatic drop in graduation rates that began as KERA’s impacts started to be felt at the classroom level.
The blue line in the graph above isn’t truly NCLB compliant, but it does use a formula fairly close to the one the Kentucky Department of Education plans to use for official NCLB reporting in the near future. The primary difference is that the calculations for the blue line include too many students as graduates under NCLB rules. Thus, the graduation rates shown by the blue line are higher than what we can expect when the new KDE formula comes into use. To make this clear, the red line in the figure shows results from exact calculations using KDE’s new formula for the years where the required data is available.
So, don’t be fooled by graduation rate presentations that conveniently ignore the full story. We are making some progress in this key area, thank goodness, but so far we really have not improved very much from where we were before KERA started to impact our schools.
For more on the derivation of the graph, see the freedomkentucky.org Wiki item on Averaged Freshman Graduation Rates, A Longer Period Calculation.
University of Kentucky basketball rarely intersects with the public policy realm, but it did Wednesday when former coach Billy Gillispie filed a lawsuit seeking $6 million from the program.
The case should be open-and-shut. Gillispie signed a Memorandum of Understanding Offer in April of 2007 stating that if he signed a contract and was subsequently fired without cause, he would be paid $1.5 million for each remaining year of his contract.
Gillispie never signed a contract. Nevertheless, he wants a federal court to award him money as if he had. The University will wind up paying him some money just to make this case (and its inevitable legal expenses) go away.
But if the federal courts operated under a loser-pays policy, UK’s lawyers could go through the legal song and dance and then show the judge where the memorandum says its provisions only become effective after an actual contract is signed. Then Gillispie would not only go home empty-handed, he would have to pay UK’s legal expenses, too.
In the current political environment in both Washington D.C. and Frankfort, loser-pays isn’t going to get any kind of hearing. But if Wildcats fans wonder why their money will wind up going to pay off a fired coach, they should start asking questions at least about making Kentucky a loser-pays state.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is talking about education, and the performance of Florida education under his administration certainly merits attention. A quick look at the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data for Kentucky and Florida shows some amazing progress has been made in Mr. Bush’s state.
For example, the graph below shows that Florida came from well behind Kentucky in Grade four reading in 1994 to slightly exceed our performance by 2007. That’s really remarkable.
Things get more interesting when we compare how much Florida reduced the fourth grade White to Black reading gap on the NAEP between 1994 and 2007 compared to what happened in Kentucky.
Finally, Florida really moved out beyond us on eight grade writing over the period of time the NAEP has assessed this at the state level.
So, Governor Bush is definitely worth listening to.
Check out Gov. Bush’s 7 Education Principles.