Committee calls for new generation of citizens to mobilize for better schools

Posted October 3, 2018 at 2:22 pm

(The following is from a press release from The Prichard Committee, an education advocacy organization in Kentucky)


The latest Kentucky test scores released last week show student performance declining in most areas and achievement gaps widening in Kentucky schools and communities.

Our public schools have made great progress in the last generation and today that progress is at risk. To stem the decline and chart a course of renewed progress, citizens must come together at the local level to understand the needs of students in their own communities and be willing to commit time and energy to realizing strong performance for all students.

The primary areas of concern rise to the top as we analyze the latest data:

* Every student is not on a path to proficiency. For Kentucky’s early learners, we see only tiny gains over last year in elementary reading and declining results in elementary mathematics. This pattern applies across nearly all student groups, with signs of better progress only for English readers.

* Fewer students are meeting college readiness benchmarks on the ACT. Results show an alarming drop in the number of students meeting Kentucky’s college readiness benchmarks on the ACT, including five percent declines in English and mathematics and a 7.5 percent decline in reading. In the data released, ACT is the only academic readiness measure that can be fully compared to last year’s results.

Even in schools performing relatively well overall, some groups of students are performing no better than the lowest five percent of schools in the state. For school at all levels, 2018 is the first year of identifying schools for targeted support and improvement (TSI). This identifies schools based on having one or more student groups with performance like the lowest five percent of schools. This data show 418 schools have group results at that disturbingly low level, including 320 schools with very low results for students with identified disabilities.

“Today’s results is everyone’s business,” said Bridgitte Blom Ramsey, executive director. “For the Commonwealth’s system of public education to continue to improve and build on the progress in the last generations, citizens must be aware of the results of their schools and districts and begin to have courageous conversations about how to serve more students well. This is a moment of opportunity, a time to begin co-designing solutions with educators, students, parents, community and business leaders–side-by-side at the local level.”

As citizens across the state begin the reality of where we stand in education and step up to be part of the improvement, it’s important to note that since 2008, Kentucky schools and districts have been under three separate and distinct accountability models and teachers have been implementing three different sets of standards.

“While any system must be updated to meet modern demands, and some disruption is necessary in that process, growth and sustained improvement require a degree of certainty and confidence born of depending expertise,” said Blom Ramsey. “It is imperative that our leaders stabilize the policy environment that has been marked by constant churn for the better part of the past decade. As we move into the first full year under a new accountability system, citizens and policymakers alike must commit to providing the stability and the resources necessary for deep and continuous improvement to take root. This is the system-level leadership our students deserve and desperately need now.”

(A review of local test results will be published in next week’s Clinton County News.)