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First out of the barrel were rankings from Students First, Michelle Rhee’s education group. Rhee’s State Policy Report Card for Kentucky gives the Bluegrass State a rather dismal “D Minus” overall. Kentucky’s best score, if you can call it that, for the three main areas graded was a “D Plus” for the way we evaluate and elevate teachers and principals. That’s pretty grim, but the scores got worse in the areas of “Spend Wisely and Govern Well” where we got a “D” and in the “Empower Parents” area where Rhee awarded Kentucky an “F.” You can click on the link above to see more details about each grade in each area.
Overall, in its “Results by List” Students First ranked Kentucky’s educational laws and policies at #35 in the country.
That’s pretty unimpressive.
But wait! Literally within days of the Students First rankings, Education Week came out with its annual report, “Quality Counts.” According to EdWeek, as gleefully reported by Kentucky’s governor Kentucky has moved up in its ranking scheme and now comes in at #10 among all the states!
Talk about confusing!
Does Kentucky’s education system really rank at #10, #35, or maybe something else altogether different?
Well, I’m really not impressed with any of this “stuff.” The sorts of analyses both of these groups engage in are simplistic and can be very non-revealing.
That’s right, BIPPS isn’t really impressed with the rather liberal EdWeek rankings (based in large measure on “stuff” that ed school profs think should work, but which are mostly still unproved fad ideas).
I’m also not impressed with at least a part of the Rhee analysis. Her group simplistically ranked Kentucky’s overall average scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) without paying any attention to grossly different racial demographics from state to state or Kentucky’s leading exclusion rate of students with learning disabilities on the NAEP reading assessment.
EdWeek engages in exactly the same sort of overly simplistic NAEP analysis, as well.
Read any NAEP report card from 2005 on and you will see that the people who actually run this federal testing program say you need to look at the data disaggregated by race and you also need to consider high exclusion rates.
These state rankings are just more of the same sort of misleading, shallow stuff we have been getting for years from local groups like the now defunct Kentucky Long Term Policy Research Center and more recently from UK’s Center for Business and Economic Research.
Well, here’s one reason I don’t care for all the fluffy rankings. When you do a proper job of looking at how our white kids did on the last National Assessment of Educational Progress eighth grade math test, our performance looks pretty bad. When you add the fact that 84 percent of our kids are white, that just makes this map’s message even grimmer.
No hooting and hollering about EdWeek saying nice things about our still-developing K-PREP assessment program, etcetera, is going to change the fact that Kentucky’s whites only outscored whites in just three states on the 2011 NAEP math assessment, either.
I hope our new programs pan out, but we are going to need several more years of data to know if that really will happen. Cheering about changes that have yet to prove themselves is not going to help.