Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Schools improving too slowly (transition index results)

If Kentucky education were continue to improve at the pace shown above:
  • Elementary schools would reach 100 in 2015.
  • Middle schools would get there in 2017.
  • High schools would not arrive until 2052.
Let me explain that a bit. The transition index results shown above use a 0-140 scale that combines results from reading, mathematics, science, social studies, and writing. On that scale, 100 that signals that student performance in all subjects averages out at the proficient level. The graph shown above is part of new analysis released today by the Council for Better Education, the Kentucky Association of School Councils, and the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, and available here.

The thing is, our children are entitled to schools that allow them to meet state standards. Since 1990, we have accepted that the constitutional mandate would not be met overnight. At first, we planned to get the job done by 2012, and then in 1999, the Kentucky Board of Education put off the deadline until 2014.

The data above and the rest of the Transition Index Report show that statewide, we are not on track to meet that 2014 target.

Of course, Senate Bill 1 removed the official 2014 timeline. Until we have new standards, new tests, and a new deadline to deliver for all students, though, 100 by 2014 is the closest thing we have to a benchmark of adequate progress. By that benchmark, we need to move faster in 2010 and 2011 than we did in 2008 and 2009.

From the official press release on the Transition Index Report:
"Remember that our state is getting ready to set even higher standards," Said Daviess County superintendent Tom Shelton, president of the Council for Better Education. "If current improvement is too slow to reach existing standards, there is great concern about how we will do when the new college-ready standards come into play."

Cindy Heine, associate executive director of the Prichard Committee, said the point of the report is to let "every one see the issues and work on moving achievement to higher levels." Heine echoed Shelton's thought on Senate Bill 1, adding, "For all students to be ready for college and workplace success, school improvement cannot wait for 2012. We all need to be working on quicker progress in 2009 as well as in future years."
(I was the lead number-cruncher on the Transition Index Report, work that definitely slowed down my blogging over the last week.)

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Updates and data on Kentucky education!