Kentucky’s public education system continues to face a number of problems, but one of the most serious problems involves the state’s chronic white minus black achievement gaps. We previously examined long term gap trends from the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the EXPLORE tests from ACT, Inc. Today, we’ll look at more test results from the ACT, namely the 10th grade PLAN results. As with EXPLORE, the PLAN data disaggregated by race is only available from 2012, so we have three years of data from this assessment where the scores are broken out by race.
The first graph is for PLAN English results. The white minus black score gap grew on this assessment between 2011-2012 and 2013-14.
Don’t forget, unlike the situation with the NAEP, Kentucky tests all tenth grade students with the PLAN. There are no sampling errors in the scores above, and though the changes are small, this is a real deterioration in gap performance.
Click the “Read more” link to see the results for other subjects.
Next is PLAN math.
This is one of the few bright spots in the gap story, though the trend is far from dramatic. The white minus black PLAN math gap actually was reduced by a tenth of a point between 2011-12 and 2013-14. However, that is mostly because the white performance was flat between 2011-12 and 2013-14.
Here is what happened in PLAN Reading.
The good news in PLAN math is certainly not maintained for reading. The gap grew and black scores actually declined a tenth of a point between 2011-12 and 2013-14! This is not progress!
Science is the last individual area where PLAN reports scores.
Once again, the achievement gap grew between 2011-12 and 2013-14 as black scores remained flat.
Finally, as with EXPLORE, PLAN reports a Composite Score (an average of all the above).
As would be expected, the overall gap grew here, as well as white scores rose slightly while black scores remained flat.
Keep in mind, as with the EXPLORE, the PLAN is aligned to the ACT college entrance test and is a good indicator of whether or not kids are on track for college and careers as of the tenth grade. Except, our black kids are lagging behind, and in reading their absolute scores are actually in decline, as well.
This is no way to deliver on promises made a quarter of a century ago that “All kids can learn, and most at high levels.”
Thus, just as we saw from the NAEP and EXPLORE, Kentucky’s PLAN testing pretty much universally shows blacks are being left behind, and in the critical subject of reading their absolute performance has declined over the three years that Common Core has been in place in Kentucky.
So, the message from PLAN echoes that from the NAEP and EXPLORE. It is time for our state leaders to move beyond selfish adult interest lobbying and finally do something for Kentucky’s kids, first.
We need school choices for parents that will turn the results in the graphs above around. It’s past time to deliver on the promises of KERA, and the continued failure of the traditional public school system to deliver shows it is going to take some fresh ideas to make that happen.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at a summary of the trends from Kentucky’s own KPREP tests. The message won’t change, unfortunately, but stay tuned.
Data Source Technical Note: All PLAN scores were obtained from the Kentucky School Report Cards. Click on the “Data Sets Button” and then Click the appropriate year. Next, click PLAN under the Assessment section. Repeat for other years.