The Kentucky Department of Education started something called the Kentucky Core Academic Standards Challenge about 10 months ago.
The Challenge was supposed to collect comments from the public about the Kentucky standards, which are basically just cut-and-paste adoptions of the Common Core State Standards.
Now the department has issued News Release 15-066 with the title, “KENTUCKIANS STRONGLY SUPPORT CURRENT ACADEMIC STANDARDS.” The article says:
“Overall, 88 percent of the respondents gave the standards a ‘thumbs up’ and did not indicate any changes were needed.”
But, can this really tell us what the average Kentuckian thinks about the Common Core?
The response to the Challenge was in no way a valid random sample of Kentuckians. Instead, only those interested made comments to the department. Biases in this sample of Kentuckians are obvious.
The news article says the department got 4,000 responses, about half from teachers. Another 8 percent of the total submissions came from school administrators.
According to the US Census, 4,399,583 people were living in Kentucky in 2013. About 23.1 percent of them were under the age of 18, which works out to about 1,016,303 under age residents. So, there were about 3,383,280 adults in the state that year.
According to the Kentucky Department of Education, in 2013 the state had 43,767 teachers.
So, teachers only comprised about 1.2 percent of the state’s total adult population but made up about half of the Challenge respondents.
Clearly, the news release’s title is seriously misleading. The department does not have sufficient evidence to draw any conclusions about what Kentuckians think. In fact, with only about 2,000 teachers responding, we only know about the opinions of around 4.6 percent of our teachers. Maybe the others are happy; maybe they are not. And, maybe other teachers are too afraid to speak out.
One more thing: The rules for the Challenge were clear, and restrictive. They only allowed for comments to change specific standards, not to make massive changes or to throw out the whole set of standards. Furthermore, the separate, and controversial, science standards were not even open for comment.
So, those who had major disagreements with the standards probably didn’t even bother to reply to this biased program, which really makes the title of the news release inaccurate.