During the first day of its two-day meeting, the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) got good news about the high school graduation rate in Kentucky for the 2010-11 school year. The rate improved a bit.
A news release from the Kentucky Department of Education and associated documents have more details, as summarized in this table.
Except for the very small number of Asians in the state, the high school graduation rate, which is currently calculated using the Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR) formula, rose for every group shown between 2009-10 and 2010-11.
Furthermore, there has been a small trend of improvement between 2007-08 and 2010-11 in the white minus African-American and female minus male graduation rate gaps, though the white minus African-American gap did not improve between 2009-10 and 2010-11.
Education Commissioner Terry Holliday was quick to point out to the board that the new 78.0 percent rate exceeded a 2011 goal he set for himself with the board, bringing chuckles for his little bit of self-promotion as Holliday will receive his annual evaluation from the board this evening.
In any event, the trend of improvement over the four years shown in the table above isn’t nearly fast enough to meet a promised target of a 90 percent graduation rate by 2015, as outlined on Slide 7 in a Power Point presentation on “Unbridled Learning Delivery Plans and Strategies” presented to the board today.
As shown on Slide 11 in the same presentation, the department is going to have to step up progress significantly to meet the 90 percent goal. The commissioner hopes to do that with four programs involving:
• Low performing “Priority Schools,”
• A new “Career Readiness Pathways” program that offer students more options to useful careers,
• A “Persistence to Graduation” effort, and
• By putting more emphasis on graduation rates in the “Unbridled Learning Accountability Model.”
It remains to be seen if this will work. A grad rate improvement of 12 points over just a four year period has never been demonstrated in Kentucky. Looking at the latest available AFGR data for all the states for 2004-05 and 2008-09, the very best improvement was posted by Tennessee, and that improvement was only 8.9 percent. So, no-one can fault the commissioner for setting a wimpy goal.
There was a lot more of interest at this meeting, and I’ll cover that over the next few days as there didn’t seem to be any reporters present.