Last week we examined Kentucky’s chronic problem with white versus black academic achievement gaps. We learned the problem is very long term from evidence in the National Assessment of Educational Progress. We saw that EXPLORE, PLAN and even the ACT college entrance testing in Kentucky along with the Bluegrass State’s own KPREP testing show serious and mostly growing gap problems for our middle school and high school students continued right up through 2014.
Today, I am going to summarize the gap situation that is evident in Kentucky-sponsored assessments.
This first table summarizes the change in the achievement gap between 2012 and 2014 on KPREP subjects by school level. In this table and the one that follows later, cells are shaded when the gaps grew or stayed flat, which is something we don’t want. You will find an awful lot of shading on these graphs!
This second table summarizes the gap message from the EXPLORE, PLAN and the ACT. Again, there is lots of shading in this table, which indicates undesirable performance.
In summary, the message from Kentucky’s own KPREP and ACT’s testing is very clear: Kentucky’s blacks are becoming more left behind over time.
So far, nothing the state’s traditional public school system is doing, not even the Common Core State Standards, shows much evidence of helping the situation. The NAEP shows Kentucky’s white minus black achievement gap has been growing since the early days of the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990. This is a long-term problem. It isn’t getting better.
It is time to try some out of the box ideas that are not shackled by the relatively ingrown and ineffective thinking that predominates in traditional public education. Those out of the box ideas certainly should include adopting a high quality charter school law, not a mundane law, based on other states’ charter laws where these schools of innovation are improving performance for minorities.