Achievement gaps continue to impair Kentucky’s overall education progress, according to an analysis of state test scores released today by three statewide groups. Kentucky schools are falling especially short with students with disabilities, limited English proficiency, and African-American backgrounds. Low-income and Hispanic students also scored well below their peers.
The analysis, presented in a "Disaggregated Index Report," was developed by the Council for Better Education, the Kentucky Association of School Councils and the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence to monitor school performance during the three years that Kentucky is moving from the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System to a system based on new state standards and testing. The new system was mandated in legislation (Senate Bill 1) enacted by the 2009 General Assembly.
The Disaggregated Index is based on a formula similar to the one used in past years by the Kentucky Department of Education to compare student results based on race, income, and other factors. The partner groups applied the formula to state test scores results, and found that:
• Of all groups studied, only Asian elementary students and gifted students at all levels have reached proficiency.
• White elementary students are the only other group on track to reach proficiency by 2014. White results are improving too slowly in middle and high school.
• Hispanic students, low-income students, and students with disabilities showed improvement at all levels, but at rates too slow to reach proficiency by 2014.
• African-American student results are flat for middle and high school, with a small improvement at the elementary level.
• Asian student results, though high, declined at all three levels.
• Students with limited English proficiency had declining results in middle and high school levels, with slow elementary improvement.
• On the 0-140 scale used in the analysis, gaps of 17 points or more separate African-American students, students with disabilities, and students with limited English proficiency from their classmates at every level.
"The goal is to deliver proficiency for each and every child," said Ronda Harmon, executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Councils. "These disaggregated index results allow schools to evaluate strengths and tackle weaknesses until the 2012 assessment begins."
"The gaps remain painful and include some worrisome declines, reminding us that we still have major work ahead to provide an equal quality of education for all Kentucky’s children,” said Daviess County Superintendent Tom Shelton, president of the Council for Better Education. "Plus, to be competitive in the global economy, we need every single student to be learning at very high levels, preparing for when the new college-ready standards come into play."
Cindy Heine, interim executive director of the Prichard Committee, saw the report as “a call to action for all Kentucky adults on behalf of all our children.” Heine added that the point of the report was to see the trends clearly and encourage all stakeholders to keep attention on raising performance during the testing transition.The full report on statewide data, and the file of district and school results are available for download from the KASC website.