Per our alert yesterday, last night’s Kentucky Tonight show on KET was all about charter schools.
It brought together State Representatives Brad Montell, R-Shelbyville and Carl Rollins, D- Midway with Jefferson County Teachers Association president Brent McKim and Bluegrass Institute board member Phil Moffitt to hassle it out about charter schools.
Of course, as is usually the case with Kentucky Tonight shows, there were plenty of ‘opinions,’ only some of which are really true. I’ll discuss an obvious one in this first blog.
One of the key issues in the charter school debate is whether or not the current, plodding pace of Kentucky’s regular public schools is adequate.
Around 49 minutes into the show (which is now viewable on line here), McKim stated that Kentucky used to score around 48th or 49th on a whole host of education indicators in the early 1990s. One indicator he mentioned was the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
Well, here are some facts.
Back in 1992, Kentucky’s overall eighth grade math scale score on the NAEP ranked 28 out of 41 states. Thirteen states scored lower than Kentucky did that year (so, we didn’t rank 49th or 48th, not even close). On a percentile basis that can be compared to the 2009 results, when all states participated, this is about the 34th percentile.
Flash forward to 2009.
Kentucky’s overall eighth grade math score on NAEP tied one other state for a rank of 34 out of 50 states. Fifteen states out of this larger testing group scored lower than Kentucky. Kentucky’s performance falls at about the 34th percentile for comparison to the 1992 situation.
In other words, in eighth grade math our relative performance didn’t budge for all students compared to other states between 1992 and 2009. But, back in 1992 the state’s performance wasn’t equivalent to a 48th or 49th place performance, either.
Adding insult to injury, as of 2009, the NAEP says Kentucky’s eighth grade math proficiency rate is only 27 percent, little more than one in four. How can anyone call this significant progress?
By the way, we didn’t score at the bottom on NAEP fourth grade reading and fourth grade math in 1992, either. Fourteen states scored lower in reading and eleven states scored lower in fourth grade math.
Now, regular readers of this blog know that I am not a fan of simplistically looking only at overall NAEP scores for all students (I’ll leave such misleading simplistic analysis to the Prichard Committee, which McKim praised during the telecast, by the way).
I explain why I don’t favor simplistic ranking of overall student scores from NAEP in this freedomkentucky.org Wiki item.
So, let’s very quickly look at how our eighth grade whites did on NAEP math back in 1992 and in 2009. Whites in Kentucky comprise about 85 percent or so of the NAEP samples.
In 1992 the NAEP Data Explorer shows that 41 states received eighth grade math scores for whites. Kentucky ranked in a tie with Arkansas and Alabama at 35th place. That was around the 17th percentile. Four states had lower white math scores.
In 2009, Kentucky’s eighth grade whites were in a four-way tie, ranking 44 out of 50 participating states. Whites in only three states scored lower. On a percentile basis, make that the 14th percentile.
So, our whites lost a little ground between 1992 and 2009 in eighth grade math.
Now, why would Mr. McKim be so confused about all of this?
More importantly, how can we continue to just tinker with a public school system that has continuously failed to perform for two decades? It’s time for something better. Our kids deserve it.
The NAEP scores were all obtained from the NAEP Data Explorer.
I assembled the rankings from downloaded spreadsheets of the data.