UPDATED FOR CHANGED DATA FROM KDE!
The new test scores from Kentucky’s Common Core State Standards (CCSS) aligned tests in reading and mathematics were released on Friday, and I have started to look at the proficiency rate data for white and black students. The results are troubling.
This first graph shows the percentages of white and African-American students who scored “Proficient” or more on Kentucky’s new CCSS-aligned Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP) reading tests. The data comes from Page 87 in the “Commonwealth of Kentucky, State Report Card, 2012-2013 Academic Year” PDF document. You can access that report by going to the web page for the statewide school report card and clicking on the link that says “Printer Friendly Report Card (PDF).”
Notice that the proportion of Kentucky’s elementary school whites who scored “Proficient” or more in reading stayed perfectly flat between 2012 and 2013 at 51.3 percent. That is obviously not good news.
But, things get worse when you look at African-American performance. These children of color actually saw a decline in their proficiency rates from 27.5 percent in 2012 to 27.3 percent in 2013.
Thus, the elementary school level reading achievement gap for whites minus blacks grew between 2012 and 2013! That most definitely is not what CCSS supporters promised!
While proficiency rate data for individual student groups is basically ignored by Kentucky’s new Unbridled Learning school accountability program, our waiver from No Child Left Behind requires the state to continue to report on how individual racial groups perform against Annual Measurable Objective (AMO) targets like those from No Child.
Page 87 in the new report card indicates that for white elementary school reading, the AMO proficiency rate target is 56.2 percent and for African-Americans it is 34.8 percent. Clearly, neither racial group in Kentucky met its reading AMO target in elementary schools in 2013.
Things are better for middle school reading, as the next graph shows. At least the scores increased. However, neither racial group met its reading AMO target in 2013. The white AMO target was 54.9 percent proficiency and African-Americans were to reach at least 33.3 percent proficiency. After well over two decades of promises from the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990 – and more recently from CCSS – that things would get better, this is troublingly low performance.
Furthermore, Kentucky’s white minus African American middle school reading proficiency gap in reading increased by 0.7 percent in just one year.
The middle school reading picture is replicated in high schools. Both whites and African-Americans missed the AMO targets of 59.7 percent and 38.5 percent, respectively.
And, the achievement gap also increased rather notably by 1.4 points in just one year.
To be sure, this is not much of a trend line, and I’d like to see a few more years of data before making hard and fast decisions. However, it is normal for scores to rise in the second year of a new testing program. The fact that this didn’t happen in elementary schools for either racial group is problematic.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at the math results, which are far more problematic than reading.
One last point: no-one can cite the new K-PREP reading performance in Kentucky’s totally traditional public school system as an excuse not to finally create charter school alternatives to help our struggling students. If anything, the new K-PREP data shows our educators need charter schools in their tool kit to help turn the growing gaps and missed AMO picture around.
After I downloaded the original version of the new 2012-13 report card, the Kentucky Department of Education posted an update. The curious thing is the update is dated September 24, 2013, but the originally released version of the report didn’t come out until September 27, 2013. Anyway, I think I have updated the links and page numbers correctly to reflect the latest release.