Too many graduates not ready for college or careers
Too many not proficient in Algebra II even though it’s supposedly a graduation requirement
Too many poorly informed people in Kentucky are crowing about the state’s very large high school graduation rate numbers. Either a lot of folks, including legislators who work on education, just don’t understand what is going on, or they are willingly part of a massive deception about the real quality of Kentucky’s high school diplomas.
Let’s examine some facts.
The Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE) web site makes it very clear that the math content required in an Algebra II course is required for graduation. On its web page for “Minimum High School Graduation Requirements,” the KDE lists the math requirement as:
“Mathematics – 3 credits to include Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II (An integrated, applied, interdisciplinary, or technical or occupational course that prepares a student for a career path based on the student’s Individual Learning Plan may be substituted for a traditional Algebra I, Geometry or Algebra II course on an individual student basis if the course meets the content standards in the Kentucky Core Academic Standards (KCAS).”
Because Algebra II subject matter is in the KCAS, students are still required to get Algebra II content even if they take some other sort of math sequence.
All of our students are also required to take the state’s Algebra II End-of-Course exams, as well. The state couldn’t require that if it didn’t expect all students to have Algebra II or its equivalent.
So, there doesn’t seem to be any question about this Algebra II requirement.
Certainly, the Kentucky Commissioner of Education thinks student need Algebra II to graduate. Consider Commissioner Stephen Pruitt’s comments in his State of Kentucky Education report released several weeks ago. Pruitt says:
“In 2015, 88 percent of Kentucky public students graduated from high school on time, among the highest rates in the nation (all states now use the same 4-year cohort graduation rate calculation). Kentucky ranks the highest of states that require Algebra II and four years of English to graduate” (Emphasis Added).
So, Kentucky’s graduates are supposed to complete an Algebra II course or receive equivalent math instruction before graduation. That is the publicly proclaimed requirement.
But, what is REALLY happening?
Here is the credibility problem for the department of education and all the others who cite such implausibly large numbers as a 2015 high school graduation rate of 88 percent.
Over the past three years, Kentucky School Report Cards for the state show proficiency rates on the Bluegrass State’s own Algebra II End-of-Course exam have never exceeded the 2015 rate of 38.2 percent.
So, how can it possibly be that Kentucky has a high school graduation rate for 2015 of 88 percent when only about 38 percent or fewer of the state’s students perform acceptably on the Algebra II End-of-Course exam?
Is this just more evidence of what former Jefferson County Academic Director Dewey Hensley so nicely put it as:
In any event, readers should strongly challenge anyone who presents Kentucky’s obviously misleading and inflated graduation numbers as though they credibly represent real educational accomplishment. Sure, kids are getting pieces of paper, but our students are not receiving the education our state education leaders tell us those pieces of paper supposedly represent.
Sadly, this diploma deception is going on all across the state. If you would like to see the discrepancy between your local high school’s latest Algebra II proficiency rate and its graduation rate, click here to download our Excel spreadsheet.